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Assessment, Collaboration & Outreach

Assessment, Collaboration & Outreach (ACO) goal is to grow and support field-based simulation education opportunities in VHA by providing standardization of best practices for improved quality, opportunities for innovation, and networking of resources. ACO diffuses best practices from the National Simulation Center and collaborating partners, offer quality assurance of SimLEARN programs in the field, and conduct systems testing and latent hazard identification to promote best practices and minimize risks to patients. 
Hospital Activations Team

Our Mission is to grow and support simulation education opportunities in the VHA Enterprise through:

  • Standardization of best practices for improved quality and sustainment
  • Opportunities for innovation
  • Network of resources, Partnerships, and Collaboration

Our Vision is to improve customer service experience by:                

  • Improved resource utilization and cost minimization
  • Client-centered education
  • Adaptable solutions for field needs
  • Relevance of simulation-based training
  • Expanded options for education and training              

                                                               Services Offered

Simulation Based Healthcare Design Testing

ACO’s Simulation Based Healthcare Design Testing (SbHDT) portfolio tests new environments and new healthcare facilities to ensure that the spaces created match the needs of the staff and administration, while proactively identifying latent safety threats prior to delivering patient care.

Through partnerships with National Program Offices such as the Office of Construction and Facilities Management (CFM).  ACO conducts simulated scenarios during the design phase of new construction and new design guide standard development.

The simulated scenarios test functionality and safety of the designs. Examples of scenario considerations include:

  • The ability to provide care to a Veteran with mobility aids and a caregiver escorting them.
  • The ability to protect the privacy of Veterans when intimate exams are performed.
  • The ability to provide care to a Veteran experiencing a medical emergency while awaiting emergency medical services.
For additional information regarding Simulation Based Healthcare Design Testing, please contact Devin Harrison:

Field-Based Simulation Experiences

Field-based simulation experiences (FBSE) provides guidance to and for clinical best simulation practice activities using full range of simulation modalities. FBSE incorporates curriculum design, creation of policies and procedures, along with development of virtual patient (future state), standardized patient, and manikin-based simulations. Current offerings include Tele-Stroke "go live" training, Fundamental of Critical Care Support (FCCS), Simulation development field consultations and coming soon simulation field courses.

For additional information regarding Field-Based Simulation Experiences, please contact Sherri Boisvert:

System Hospital Activations

Opening a new clinical facility or renovation of space or offering of new clinical services comes with many potential hazards associated with the introduction of new processes, equipment, staff new to the VA, and/or new to the clinical locations, ergonomics and design, and the availability of resources. Process-oriented simulation is a useful tool to proactively identify gaps or deficiencies.

ACO's System/Hospital Activation, Assessment and Evaluation utilizes a five-phase approach adapted from the model by Herzer et. al., (2009). The Hazard Identification and Mitigation Process (HIMP) as used by ACO places an emphasis on the use of process-oriented simulation scenarios to observe staffs’ responses to patient flow, workflow, equipment, and emergency procedures. ACO’s assessment model takes place in-situ using manikin-based simulation, standardized patients, or tabletop exercises to identify gaps and deficiencies (latent hazards) which could potentially put Veterans and others at risk. Once the latent hazards are prioritized, strategies are developed in collaboration with facility staff to mitigate them prior to activation of new or renovated patient care areas or the implementation of new patient care services.

The process begins when a facility formally requests ACO’s System/Hospital Activation services. Once a formal letter of invitation signed by the facility or VISN director and a Systems/Hospital Activations Intake Form (embedded link) is completed the ACO Team schedules a site visit with the requesting facility. During the site visit the ACO Team will meet with facility and service leadership, conduct a walk thru of the new patient care area, and determine the scope, schedule and budget for the project. Next, the ACO Team collaborates with the requesting service to identify potential safety hazards and ideas for process-oriented simulation scenarios. The ACO then crafts custom scenarios to test the process of concern. The ACO team returns to your facility in the weeks prior to opening to run the simulations with your team. At the conclusion of each scenario the ACO team debrief the scenario participants and observers to document identified patient safety hazards and potential mitigation strategies. Finally, the ACO team creates a written report listing each finding, the potential risk, and mitigation recommendations that is provided to facility and service leadership.

For additional information regarding System Hospital Activations, please contact Vanessa Aycock:

Rural Health Process Improvement

The VISN Wide Rural Health Simulation Project overarching goal is to expand the reach of the healthcare simulation training programs at local VA Medical facilities and/or sites of care supporting rural Veterans. The project aims to expand the reach of the local VAMCs support in the development and implementation of the rural facilities simulation-based training by providing VISN based support including personnel and equipment. Ultimately, a simulation-based training program would be expected to enhance rural Veterans clinical outcomes and access to services through education and training of rural VA health care professional workforce.

For additional information regarding Rural Health Process Improvement please contact Sherri Boisvert: