At the Garfield Innovation Center, healthcare professionals can practice with electronic simulators to prepare for life-threatening situations.

Located in San Leandro, California, the Garfield Innovation Center describes itself as a place where clinicians and healthcare professionals can engage in innovative, hands-on experimental scenarios — before they’re put into practice with patients.

The use of simulations plays a key role at the center. Dr. Paul Preston, a staff anesthesiologist at the San Francisco Kaiser Permanente, demonstrated in a Fast Company video an electronic simulator device that looks and acts remarkably human-like: The “patient” can groan, it can stop breathing and its heart can stop. The value of such a device? It can help healthcare teams prepare for life or death situations that can impact patients.

Photo courtesy of the Garfield Innovation Center

Photo courtesy of the Garfield Innovation Center

“I was trained in a system that relied on me to catch all the mistakes,” Dr. Preston told Fast Company.

He says that he’s seeing more and more evidence that simulation can make the practice of medicine so much safer.

In the Fast Company video, healthcare team members also simulate caring for a mother in childbirth. The care team is dealing with a stressful situation called shoulder dystocia, or what happens when the baby doesn’t want to come out and the healthcare team is gently helping to pull the head. It’s a stressful situation, for sure, and one for which planning and preparation can be very valuable.


Photo courtesy of the Garfield Innovation Center

Photo courtesy of the Garfield Innovation Center

In addition, building prototypes and role-playing can help figure out if brainstormed solutions will actually work in the real world of medicine, Dr. Yan Chow, director of innovation and advanced technology at the Garfield Innovation Center, told Insights by Stanford Business.

Dr. Chow describes how in the planning stages for Kaiser Permanente’s new small retail “microclinics,” the architects assumed that physicians would want to have their offices at the back of the clinics in order to avoid distractions.

Dr. Chow says that after a prototype was built and some role-playing took place, physicians wanted to have their offices at the front of the clinics so they could get a better sense of the flow of patients and staff. They didn’t want to be isolated in the back of the clinics.

Kaiser Permanente’s embrace of microclinics mirrors the movement of CVS Health, Walgreens and Rite Aid to provide access to retail clinics. The promise of retail clinics is access to convenient, cost-effective care for patients, according to The Baltimore Sun

Top photo courtesy of the Garfield Innovation Center