Gamification approach supports dispatcher decision making

NHS England announced last year its recommendations for changes to the ambulance service operating model and associated standards, developed through the Ambulance Response Programme (ARP).

The redesigned system for ambulance services in England focuses on ensuring patients get rapid life-saving treatment for conditions such as cardiac arrest, stroke and heart attack, rather than simply sending ambulances to ‘stop the clock’.

Currently, as many as one in four patients who needs hospital treatment, more than a million people each year, undergo a ‘hidden wait’ beyond the current eight-minute target because the vehicle dispatched cannot transport them to hospital.

To help address this, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has developed a new eLearning project, developed in partnership with Digital Training Solutions (DTS). The learner plays the role of a new dispatcher who is presented with real-time decisions to make about how to respond. The focus is on making students confident to make the best allocation decisions for patients in accordance with the ARP.

Data-driven insights

The scenario is built around learning objectives and realistic events, that have been defined by a representative working group from NWAS.

The sequences are all filmed within a real NWAS operations centre for authenticity. Using professional actors and NWAS staff, the ‘game player’ must make decisions under time-pressure with the branching narrative unfolding according to choices made.

An end-of-module survey is presented to test the user’s knowledge retention and the education manager can access data-driven insights collected from user performance – identifying individual and collective learning gaps.

The learner plays the role of a new dispatcher who is presented with real-time decisions.

James Masterman, Senior Education Manager for Learning Quality at NWAS, has led the project and can already see a wider application in the future. He said,

“We hope that this tailored approach to education will ensure staff are prepared to effectively consolidate their knowledge of the new programme. The choices dispatchers have to make can be life or death and the Near-Life™ digital learning style will help provide a safe but realistic means of understanding best practice: helping learners to deliver the right care, at the right time, to the right place, every time.”

The intelligent Near-Life™ gamification approach can be customised to suit any training environment or scenario. Even large-scale exercises could be replicated and played through multiple times by multiple users – allowing data and intelligence to be gathered. Mike Todd, Director of DTS, believes that there is huge potential for the emergency services in using this decision-based approach.

He said,

“Near-Life™ allows users to experience immersive, role-play style training, which enhances engagement and knowledge retention. It is a new approach that brings this type of experiential learning into the digital space. We’re really excited to be working with the NWAS and really believe this approach can add value across the country.”

as published in Emergency Services Times October 2018 edition