“Hand-it-on”: an innovative simulation on the relation of non-technical skills to healthcare

A research article recently published in the journal Advances in Simulation, describes a simulation game called ‘hand-it-on’ that can be used to spark discussions on how non-technical skills can influence the work processes in healthcare. Here, author of the article, Peter Dieckmann, tells us how the game works and discusses its uses and benefits.

Every day many great ideas are generated for better care of patients, new treatments, new procedures, and new devices. They can make a difference for the lives of patients and their relatives. However, to actually implement those ideas and to make use of them in clinical practice is easier said than done. People (and research) say that it takes about 15 years to implement new ideas in actual care. Too long, one might argue. Therefore it seems necessary to do all we can to understand the barriers for implementation and to help the implementation of new ideas into the healthcare system.

People (and research) say that it takes about 15 years to implement new ideas in actual care.

That is not a small task to do and there are many, many people and ideas needed to support the implementation of new ideas into the healthcare system.

If you are interested in understanding some of the dynamics that make the implementation tricky, we might have something for you. Whilst we do not offer the solution, we offer a small piece of the puzzle.

Hand-it-on is a game that has some elements of simulation to it. It can be played basically everywhere with virtually nothing besides a few simple rules. It can be used to illustrate a whole range of aspects of care and safety in the health system (and beyond).

You ask people to stand in a circle and hand-on things to each other according to simple rules. The dynamic that unfolds, the errors and great ideas that show up, and the laughing and good times it triggers lays the ground for deep reflections, if discussed in a debriefing that focuses such key issues.

It can be used to illustrate a whole range of aspects of care and safety in the health system (and beyond).

Participants can generate ideas on how to optimize the processes they are dealing with and then try to implement those ideas. They will recognize that this is easier said than done and will become aware of the barriers for implementing new knowledge.

If they get the chance to practice a few times – which is done easily – they can also begin to develop an understanding for possible pieces of solutions. They get concrete experiences in the here and now and can then transform those to their work realities. Hand-it-on gets all the content expertise out of the way and creates a situation in which all are on similar terms. Hand-it-on also illustrates the interplay between human beings, devices that they use and the organizational framework guiding their work.

The learning potentials of Hand-it-on depend on a good debriefing – the discussion that helps participants to interpret their experiences. We describe many ideas for the debriefing in the article.

We hope you can make a difference for patients by creating learning opportunities with Hand-it-on.

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