Andy Anderson reports from the recent conference.

Over 500 healthcare simulation experts, practitioners, academics and industry colleagues came together in Brighton, England for what many regarded as one of the best conferences on simulation in healthcare they have attended. Andy Anderson reports.

So what made ASPiH 2015 so special? First were the keynote lectures from international and national experts. These commenced with the annual Laerdal sponsored lecture from Professor John Schaefer from the Medical University of South Carolina, who highlighted ways to measure the value of simulation and its relevance to key institutional decision makers, a theme that was elaborated further within specific Laerdal conference seminars.

Catherine Stoddart shared poignant examples of communication and patient safety issues from her time as Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer in Western Australia and how she is sharing those in her new role as Chief Nurse in Oxford. Iain Upton, previously a serving Royal Navy Officer, received a standing ovation for his insightful and very moving talk on his experiences of healthcare following his diagnosis with naso-pharyngeal cancer. Professor Sir Muir Gray challenged delegates to consider how the concept of value will become a driving force in future healthcare systems. Professor Peter McCulloch described changing surgical attitudes to safety and how combining human factors training with lean management techniques could have a positive impact. Steve Shorrock from Eurocontrol explored broader concepts of safety culture within different industries, emphasising how even well designed systems can fail.

Concluding keynotes from Professor Derek Galen and Professor Ian Curran, discussed the General Medical Council standards for healthcare education and their application in the workplace, emphasising that performance management and standards relating to professional capabilities are relevant to all healthcare professionals.

The ASPiH conference has a reputation for being uniquely collegiate. This year was no exception with over 30 educational and interactive workshops, seminars, and roundtable discussions covering research skills, getting published, faculty development, innovation in simulation (e.g. arts-based learning), and showcasing new technology such as the Simbulance (a fully interactive ambulance simulator) and the SimHeroes competition. The high quality of the free paper and poster presentations (selected from over 200 abstracts) further enhanced the quality of research on show.

The TECH Room goes from strength to strength, underpinned by ASPiH’s focus on the important role of simulation technologists, with even more innovative presentations around the use of technology to enhance learning. The draft ASPiH Standards of Practice in Simulation Based Education were presented and there was a lively discussion between the expert panel and the delegates. This strategic ASPiH work stream will continue into 2016 and will feature strongly in next year’s conference.

The exhibition arena was larger than ever with over 35 industry partners attending and was brilliantly showcased by the simulated patient community who worked closely with our industry colleagues to bring their technology to life. For the first time educational seminars delivered by commercial companies were included in the main programme and focused on applications including virtual patient software, a birthing simulator, midwifery programmes, a digital eye trainer, a mobile surgery app and technology to aid debriefing.

ASPiH’s focus on meaningful patient engagement was highlighted throughout the conference – in addition to Iain Upton’s keynote, they ran several sessions on patient engagement and there were two patient rapporteur’s present throughout the conference recording events. Next ASPiH hopes to fully meet the requirements for the “Patients Included” kitemark.

ASPiH prides itself on being a truly multidisciplinary organisation and that was abundantly clear this year in the range of healthcare professions represented. There is always a welcoming, sharing environment throughout the conference and in the evening social events with fantastic opportunities to network. Next year ASPiH will be in the University of the West of England (Nov 13-15 2016) and planning has already begun – don’t miss it!