Research Horizons


Immersive Virtual Reality Onboarding a Novel Approach to Large-Scale Training

Critical Care Medicine | Top Scientific Achievement
2023 Research Discoveries Cincinnati Children's Critical Care Building

Creating a “digital twin” experience via immersive virtual reality (VR) to onboard clinical staff to a new workspace is feasible and well-received, according to the largest-scale case study ever conducted of this emerging technology.

Corresponding author Matthew Zackoff, MD, MEd, and senior author Ryan Moore, MD, MSc, led the study, which was based on the recent completion of a 632,500-square-foot critical care building that features a new emergency department and new spaces for intensive care and acute care units.

To introduce clinical staff to the space, a large team of application developers, medical animators, simulation educators, clinical experts and operational leaders collaborated to design an immersive VR onboarding experience. The team focused on building realistic, interactive and accessible replicas of three types of intensive care units plus units for Acute Care Cardiology and Bone Marrow Transplant. These units were prioritized because of their complexity and because they had the most significant changes regarding room functionality and location of resources and equipment.

The team provided clear communications and carried out a detailed timeline to train more than 2,000 frontline staff, all prior to opening the building for patient care.

“No other training modality could provide participants a comparable educational experience in the same training window, much less before the new clinical space was completed,” Zackoff says.

Since these findings were published, the research team also has published a follow-up analysis in the journal Simulation in Healthcare. The study found that across all staff demographics, rates of adverse events were low, odds of reporting immersion were high, and there was a clear preference for VR over lower-fidelity training methods.

“These combined findings demonstrate that large-scale VR onboarding is feasible, tolerable and acceptable to a diverse population of healthcare staff when using digital twin technology,” Zackoff says. 

A, The VR onboarding experience consisted of a standardized, 5-phase structure. B, During the phases, the participants autonomously navigated a highly realistic digital twin of the future clinical space under the guidance of an orientation bot; C, gained exposure to key unit locations and new room functionality; and D, were able to practice skills as part of a clinical case.

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Publication Information
Original title: Immersive Virtual Reality Onboarding using a Digital Twin for a New Clinical Space Expansion: A Novel Approach to Large-Scale Training for Health Care Providers
Published in: The Journal of Pediatrics
Publish date: Aug. 13, 2022
Read the study

Research By

Matthew Zackoff, MD, MEd
Matthew Zackoff, MD, MEd
Division of Critical Care Medicine
Ryan Moore, MD, MSc
Ryan Moore, MD, MSc
Director, Digital Health Innovation, Heart Institute