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Grounded in history, going forward with innovation

Lou Oberndorf Chairman and CEO of Operative Experience headshot

‘The driving force of technology evolution is not mechanical. electrical, optical, or chemical. It’s human: each new generation of simulationists standing on the shoulders -and the breakthroughs -of every previous generation”

Operative Experience Inc. is no newcomer to simulation-based training.   In fact, it began on those very shoulders of earlier generations of simulation-based pioneers.

OEI’s Chairman and CEO, Lou Oberndorf, has a long history of pioneering in patient simulation. 

“I was the vice president of marketing and business development for Loral, a top-ten defense company based in New York City. In the early 1990s, Loral was the largest simulation training contractor in the defense industry. In 1994, I visited a young research team at the University of Florida working on the GAS – the Gainesville Anesthesia Simulator.  Taking the lead from flight simulators at the time, they were endeavoring to recreate rare, life-threatening events that could occur with an anesthetized patient.”

A core five-member team of inventors led by Dr. Michael Good and Dr. J.S. Gravenstein, was assembled that included physicians, engineers and business analysts.   Their early research would engineer a three dimensional model of a human being.

“When I watched the GAS mannequin in a University of Florida lab for the first time, I was blown away.  They had succeeded in creating a cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological system that mimicked human physiology.”

The simulator did have some downsides owing to the technology of the times.  The simulator was a large, fixed installation running the software of the day with all its limitations.  Learners had to literally go to wherever the simulator was housed.  Simulators at that time did only one thing.  There was little ability to allow for variables.

Even in its nascent state, Lou both understood the power of simulation and its application to business.  This was fortuitous, because at the time, a downturn in defense budgets was looming, so companies were looking for ways to use their technologies in non-defense arenas.

Oberndorf felt strongly that this new human patient simulator deserved a company focused entirely on its advancement and related medical educational technologies across the healthcare spectrum.

He  partnered with Ray Shuford, an industrial engineer and VP at Loral to negotiate a license with the University of Florida in 1994 and moved the new simulation operation to Sarasota, Florida.

“Our first job was to industrialize the product – to create an assembly process, documentation, source material and a business plan.” 

The first Loral human patient simulator was delivered to the Icahn School of Medicine in April of 1994.  By 1995, however, Loral made a decision to close the door on patient simulation and medical education overall.

Lou had seen the power of this technology and wasn’t about to let it be sun-setted by Loral.  At the end of 1995, he brokered a deal for the licenses, assets and documentation from Loral.

 By 1996, Oberndorf created his own company, Medical Education Technologies Inc. (METI).

Over the next two decades, Oberndorf and METI created a highly successful company and helped to spawn a new commercial industry providing simulation-based training to medical schools, schools of nursing and first responders.

The Lou Oberndorf Lecture on Innovation in Healthcare Simulation at the International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) was endowed in 2011, and in 2015, Lou received the Pioneer in Healthcare Simulation award from the Society for Healthcare Simulation (SSH).

That same year, Oberndorf and his wife Rosemary created the Oberndorf Professorship in Healthcare Technology at UF to assure the ongoing development of innovative learning technologies that improve healthcare.

In 2016, Lou was approached by Dr. Robert Buckman, whose Operative Experience, Inc. company specialized in surgical simulators.  Dr. Buckman felt improved outcomes needed another quantum jump in technology and expertise. 

To improve outcomes, Dr. Buckman felt a better way to learn was needed – realistically with accurate, hands-in-the-body surgical experiences using standard instruments practitioners would use in the field.  He wanted the ability to introduce variables that would force students to adapt and make split-second decisions as the situation warranted.  He felt it was really the only way to prepare new practitioners for what they might encounter in real life, when time and decision-making skills mean survival.

Dr. Buckman realized for this technology to succeed, what was needed was a seasoned industry partner to professionally manufacture, sell, distribute, and service the emerging simulator marketplace.  He found this partner in Lou Oberndorf.

Lou joined Operative Experience in 2016 to take simulation technology to the next level.

Fast forward to today, Mr Oberndorf is now the CEO of Operative Experience.  Lou has built an executive team he knows and trusts with extensive healthcare simulation experience.

Carlos Moreno, Operative Experience's Senior Vice President and Chief Technology OfficeCarlos Moreno, as Chief Technology Officer, brings more than 30 years of innovation in technology leadership to OEI. He served as Chief Technology Officer at METI where he led the development of groundbreaking patient simulators such as ECS, PediaSIM, iStan, and METIman among many other product lines during his twelve years with the healthcare learning company.  Carlos also served as Vice President of Innovation, Engineering and Technology at CAE Healthcare, another simulation pioneer. Mr. Moreno’s innovation is evident in the way he views the challenges of simulation teaching.  “The goal was to establish a modern, very flexible and adaptable technology that can transform and can grow further based on applications that are built.  It is truly a new way to teach.

Paul Bernal, Operative Experience's Vice President of Global Sales and Business DevelopmentPaul Bernal is the Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development. With more than 20 years of medical simulation experience, Paul has been immersed in the healthcare simulation market since 2003, with an emphasis on medical education and training, the growth of the military market and currently in global sales, and global business development.  He also held positions at METI as a clinical educator and USAF sales manager. Additionally, Paul served as the Director of Global Military Sales for CAE Healthcare, where as an Executive leader at CAE Healthcare, he worked with both commercial and military to help grow the government and military markets globally. Paul is a U.S Veteran of more than 20 yrs., has participated in several combat campaigns as Special Operations Forces Medical Element (SOFME) while assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing (SOW), USAF Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field FL. and co-authored one of the premier medical training courses today in the Air Force, the Expeditionary Medical Support Course (EMEDS) while assigned as a Master Instructor at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine.

Justin Weitzenfeld, Operative Experience's Senior Vice President Operations and Chief Financial OfficerAlso joining the OEI leadership team is Senior Vice President Operations and CFO, Justin Weitzenfeld who brings over 15 years of experience in the eLearning and training space including roles as Director of M&A Operations Integration at SAAS leader Relias Learning and Chief Financial Officer for Redilearning, a training solutions provider for the senior living care industry.

The collective experience of the leadership team in developing innovative and groundbreaking medical simulation technology was pivotal when a series of SBIR grant requests from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command were published.  The Department of Defense’s existing training using static patient simulators had been the de facto standard but it wasn’t enough.  Female simulators weren’t an option, for one thing.  Existing simulators that were built to withstand rugged environments were low fidelity and lacking in the necessary clinical capabilities for comprehensive training; while existing high-fidelity simulators were not robust enough and were expensive. 

 A Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program was developed to see if the vendor community could help the DOD build a better patient simulator solution.  The simulators needed to be high fidelity with realistic male and female versions; allow for multiple scenarios that could take place due to the changing engagement realities; and be long-lasting and rugged for battlefield simulations.  It would require a complete re-thinking of simulator technology.

The OEI team knew they could meet the challenge.

Under Lou’s leadership, and armed with this vision, OEI’s goal was to establish a brand new simulator model – modern, very flexible and adaptable that can transform and grow based on applications that are written and installed on a common simulator “chassis”. 

While the original effort of building the platform was an investment, its value comes in the ability to use one platform for a multitude of uses and scenarios. The underpinnings of this new platform don’t have to be redone every time a change is needed or made.  A simple smart module can be written that can ride on the platform.

Lou and his team once again transformed the industry by moving away from traditional plastic-based mannequins to develop a more responsive, realistic and diverse simulation technology.

Male TCCS Pro simulator with injuriesThe Tactical Trauma Care Pro Simulator was born.  The Pro simulators are the world’s first suite of fully-lifelike and anatomically accurate, male and female simulators for comprehensive TCCC and medical provider level care training that feature interchangeable modular limbs and wounds, making one simulator capable of supporting an unprecedented variety of highly realistic trauma scenarios for learners.

With lifelike soft tissue and skin, advanced physiology and clinical conditions, drug support, integrated patient monitoring, automated expert-validated clinical scenarios, and on-the-fly, instructor-driven scenarios, these simulators are truly the next level in experiential learning.    The Department of Defense was thrilled with the simulators and finally had a product that could support their training efforts across the combat theater.

OEI has come a long way from that first table-bound UF Human Patient Simulator.  The OEI product suite today includes simulators for advanced labor and delivery, emergency trauma care and surgical and medical team training. 

OEI’s Tactical Casualty Care Simulator, RealMom and the C-Celia suite of emergency obstetrics simulators for C-Section, postpartum hemorrhage and hysterectomy training are the most advanced simulators on the market today. OEI’s clients include the Department of Defense, hospitals, EMS providers, medical and nursing schools across the country.

When you are looking for a company that can fill your simulation training needs, pick a company you can trust.  One that is well versed in the history of simulation with an eye firmly on the future.  One that respects and rides on the shoulders of those who came before.  Look no further than Operative Experience.

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