The rapid adoption of telehealth has illuminated a stark reality: not everyone has the same level of access to these potentially life-saving services. Access disparities are barriers that can prevent certain groups from fully utilizing telehealth services, resulting in unequal healthcare outcomes.
Innovative solutions like human-to-human virtual simulation training using Standardized Patients (SPs) can be a key strategy to address telehealth access disparities. Let us explore three areas of simulation training that can help healthcare providers bridge the gaps in telehealth access: cultural competency training, digital literacy instruction, and accessibility training.
Cultural Competency Training
In a world where culturally-affirming care is leading the charge, simulation centers are struggling to meet recruitment needs of diverse patient populations. It’s morally important to include the experiences of the communities represented in the scenarios, and to have folks of lived experience casted as SPs in those roles.
Online simulation services like, SP-ed, source professional SPs from around the country to present patients from different cultural, ethnic, or social backgrounds, thereby allowing healthcare providers to practice culturally competent care in a really authentic way. These simulations can include elements like language differences, religious beliefs, gender diversity, and more.
By interacting with these simulated patients, providers can learn to navigate cultural differences, communicate effectively, and provide appropriate care. Instant feedback and the ability to repeat scenarios can help providers learn from mistakes in a safe environment.
Digital Literacy Instruction
The advancement of telehealth has necessitated a certain degree of digital literacy among its users. However, for groups such as older adults who may not be as tech-savvy, this presents a significant barrier. Human simulation online can aid in this area by enabling healthcare providers to learn how to teach digital literacy skills effectively.
For instance, healthcare providers might engage in simulations with virtual patients struggling to understand how to set up and use telehealth software. By role-playing these scenarios, providers gain the experience to guide real patients through similar processes, reducing the digital literacy barrier to telehealth access.
Accessibility training involves interacting with simulated patients with disabilities, allowing healthcare providers to practice and improve their communication skills and understanding of accessible technologies.
For example, a simulation might include a virtual patient with a hearing impairment. The healthcare provider would need to communicate effectively through text-based methods or sign language, ensuring the patient receives the necessary care. These training opportunities prepare healthcare providers to cater to a diverse patient population, promoting equitable care delivery across the telehealth landscape.
In conclusion, as we strive to make telehealth universally accessible, targeted simulation training can equip healthcare providers with the necessary skills to address disparities. By simulating real-world scenarios and interactions, healthcare providers can enhance their preparedness and effectiveness, ensuring all patients receive the quality care they need, irrespective of their location, cultural background, physical abilities, or digital literacy level.
Want to deepen your understanding and address telehealth access disparities? SP-ed is at your service with an innovative digital platform that allows healthcare providers to learn and practice through real-time standardized patient interactions. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, our service offers an interactive, hands-on learning experience that prepares you for real-world challenges. Discover the difference simulated experiences can make in your professional development. To learn more, click here to contact us.