An approach to value-based simulator selection: The creation and evaluation of the simulator value index tool

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Abstract

Background.

Currently there is no reliable, standardized mechanism to support health care professionals during the evaluation of and procurement processes for simulators. A tool founded on best practices could facilitate simulator purchase processes.

Methods.

In a 3-phase process, we identified top factors considered during the simulator purchase process through expert consensus (n = 127), created the Simulator Value Index (SVI) tool, evaluated targeted validity evidence, and evaluated the practical value of this SVI. A web-based survey was sent to simulation professionals. Participants (n = 79) used the SVI and provided feedback. We evaluated the practical value of 4 tool variations by calculating their sensitivity to predict a preferred simulator.

Results.

Seventeen top factors were identified and ranked. The top 2 were technical stability/reliability of the simulator and customer service, with no practical differences in rank across institution or stakeholder role. Full SVI variations predicted successfully the preferred simulator with good (87%) sensitivity, whereas the sensitivity of variations in cost and customer service and cost and technical stability decreased (≤54%). The majority (73%) of participants agreed that the SVI was helpful at guiding simulator purchase decisions, and 88% agreed the SVI tool would help facilitate discussion with peers and leadership.

Conclusion.

Our findings indicate the SVI supports the process of simulator purchase using a standardized framework. Sensitivity of the tool improved when factors extend beyond traditionally targeted factors. We propose the tool will facilitate discussion amongst simulation professionals dealing with simulation, provide essential information for finance and procurement professionals, and improve the long-term value of simulation solutions. Limitations and application of the tool are discussed.

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