The next time you go under the knife, or a soldier returns home after being wounded in action, you might want to thank SimQuest – a company behind a variety of medical training simulations and software solutions custom-designed for their clients. Founded in 2001 by renowned surgeon Howard Champion, MD, SimQuest has three product lines – simulation, gaming and training, and trauma data analysis. Their vision is to be the pre-eminent developer of simulation-based medical training; to help healthcare professionals develop and perfect their skills; to help clients enhance care and improve patient outcomes. Most of their work began with military applications, including rapid trauma skills training, ElSimTM (an exsanguinating limb simulator), and a collection of trauma and injury databases for injury prediction such as Surface Wound MappingTM and “Craniofacial reconstruction and injury mapping”. However, like their “HumanSim: Blast, Prehospital Disaster Triage”, and Pandemic ResponseTM exercise, they have a variety of products for civilian applications.
Dr. Champion lived in Washington for a time and helped set up MedStar, but a partnership with an existing medical software company that already had offices in Silver Spring lead SimQuest to make Silver Spring it’s base of operations even after branching out on its own and opening contingencies in Boston and Annapolis. The D.C. area become clear when considering the collection of projects SimQuest continues to work on that have military applications, and the large presence of military facilities – like Fort Detrick in Frederick and Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda. Beyond what the area has to offer, both professionally and personally, SimQuest has worked with a number of universities in developing and furthering trauma simulations.
For military medical training, SimQuest has created a rapid trauma skills training simulation program where surgeons apply rapid trauma decision-making skills in the context of a forward surgical team. Real-world combat scenarios are virtually managed within the resource-constrained environment typical of a forward surgical team. Skills practiced on this simulator prior to deployment can improve patient outcomes in the field, that is, save lives. For combat medics, the ElSimTM – exsanguinating limb simulator is an artificial leg that “bleeds” while the student learns to control lower limb hemorrhaging using compression, pressure dressings, and tourniquets. Chief Operating Officer Bob Waddington noted that one thing most people learn their first time using the ElSimTM is how difficult it is to apply the correct amount of pressure necessary to control the bleeding, especially circumferential pressure with tourniquets; something that shouldn’t be a surprise the first time the medic needs to stop a leg wound in the field. SimQuest also offers a number of databases such as Surface Wound MappingTM that allows designers of personal protective equipment (PPE) and military vehicles to visualize and search patterns of wounding, injury, and PPE damage. For armored vehicles, they have Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Advanced Requirements for Crew Safety (ARCS) that merges current combat casualty and vehicle damage data for use in next-generation combat vehicle design. Another product they have is craniofacial reconstruction and injury mapping which is an analyzable database containing tools for drawing 3D facial injuries and extracting injury information from CT scans. However, the military isn’t the only place that SimQuest sees simulation-based medical training being paramount in saving lives.
Useful to both military and civilian surgeons alike, SimQuests’ open surgery simulator is a virtual training system that replicates open-incision surgery on a live patent and allows them to gain hands-on experience with a variety of surgical procedures. This virtual reality-type simulation has users stand as they would in an operating room holding real surgical instruments attached to force-feedback devices that provide the feel that would normally result from their actions in the real world. Also, this simulator provides graded levels of difficulty that enable skills to be practiced in a variety of clinical contexts, as well as containing objective, quantitative metrics developed by surgeon-educations to assess performance, skill level, and need for remediation. This simulator could be the future of surgical training and maintenance of certification; so again, you might want to thank SimQuest after that surgery goes well.