Educational multimedia technology to optimise training in anaesthesiology and critical care

Sens 24 January 2000Three European member hospitals of the International Trauma Anaesthesia and Critical Care Society (ITACCS) are working together with Lectures Libres Productions, a French medical education software company, in the ESTPER project on emergency training for medical professionals. In January 1998, this initiative was started within the Educational Multimedia Task Force (EMTF), funded by the European Commission. ESTPER stands for


European Severe Trauma Perspective and aims to provide multi-media educational tools in the fields of anaesthesiology and critical care for paramedical personnel, nurses, students but equally senior doctors who are familiar with neither of these medical specialities.

Lectures Libres Productions is specialising in the production and delivery of innovative medical education in universities and hospitals, as well as in ambulance services. In collaboration with SAMU Hôpital in Paris, Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, and the Klinik für Anästhesiologie in Mainz, the software company will create open learning centres in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, to develop both on-the-job and academic multimedia training, stimulating medical staff and the students to undertake the right, efficient and life-saving actions, whenever they are confronted with severe physical and time constraints.

The training outcome in these newly founded open learning centres will serve to formulate recommendations about the systematic integration of self-paced multimedia education into a ITACCS accreditation and qualification training programme in anaesthesia and critical care on a European scale. Initially, a curriculum of clinical cases has been defined, which meets the requirements of daily clinical routine as it is currently being practised in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom outside and inside the hospital. The selected topics include toxic trauma, cranial trauma, severe internal trauma, severe burns, and poly-trauma.

The educational multimedia technology will consist of CD-ROM and digital video disc drives for stand-alone clinical simulations with workstations that are linked to an on-line database to provide help, clinical information, and user interaction to exchange comments and results. In the simulation, the patient will be represented by means of graphics. Photographs will be used to picture specific medical equipment, whereas video sequences will render all critical manoeuvres and gestures. In addition, clinical information will be provided in written French, German, or English text.

Voice-over explanation of each simulation can be offered in the language of the trainee's choice but all ambient voices will remain in the language of the respective country in which the case has been set. The project partners have decided to have it this way with the special intention to make the user aware of the differences in clinical practice outside their own national environment. For the same reason, the clinical content of each training module is based on the practice of the country in which the simulation has been performed. The training programme will apply a variety of delivery techniques to customise its content to the user's practice.

The hardest challenges to overcome will involve the correct choice and proper calibration of monitoring devices that measure vital signs such as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and so on. If the user has followed the right set-up procedure of a device, the data will immediately become visible in real time on the screen. The adequate surveillance of this data will constitute the following element which the ESTPER team will have to deal with successfully in the training programme's built-up. Self-evidently, the partners anticipate that design modifications will have to be introduced to subsequent modules in response to the initial trainees' feedback.

In the end, the project team hopes to present a more time- and cost-efficient method to learn and train the essential aspects of anaesthesiology as well as critical care. This will result in a more effective and better use of classroom time for medical students, higher skill levels for paramedical personnel, and substantial cost savings to health care and educational institutions. Please, also read our article on the related Post-Doc project in the VMW November 1999 issue: Web-based continuing medical education for doctors provokes positive but also mixed feelings.

Leslie Versweyveld

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