AMA Implementing Virtual Patients Into Medical Student Education

The American Medical Association (AMA) Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium is helping its schools adapt technology to utilize virtual patients in medical education. One such program, the Regenstrief EHR Clinical Learning Platform, uses over 11,000 records with what the AMA calls “misidentified data,” health records from patients with altered detail to maintain patient privacy. This program provides schools with extremely realistic hypothetical patient presentations, allowing medical students to experience working with clinical scenarios. The AMA began this system by providing a grant for the project and continues to do so. UConn School of Medicine has implemented the Regenstrief Platform into two of its courses.

One such course utilizes a case-oriented approach to education focuses on scientific principles coupled with patient pathologies. Cases are presented from EHR data from a diverse population, and allows students to gain exposure to a wide array of clinical scenarios. The other course focuses on making decisions based on evidence, considering public health and health policy, and looking into social discrimination in healthcare. Students go through patient data to gain education on demographic factors and economics.

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Dr. David D. Henderson, associate dean for medical student affairs and professor of family medicine at UConn, said “The overarching goal of this curricula is to make what students learn relevant to patient care because they came here to be doctors. They came here to learn to take care of patients, and the idea is to get them introduced to the science part of medicine vis-a-vis patients, albeit virtual patients and virtual families.”

Additionally, the University of Florida College of Medicine has been utilizing Virtual Dementia Tours in geriatric rotations to simulate the disease. This simulation consists of the participant wearing glasses, headphones, and gloves in a dark room that simulates the sensory limitations one may experience with dementia. The participant then attempts to perform daily basic activities that often burden those with the disease. This experience is designed to help students understand the severity of dementia.

“Empathy was something they were able to draw out of their experience,” said Dr. Mallory Otto, a clinical professor in the University of Florida’s Geriatric Medicine Division. She states that the students were astounded by the experience. “Learning through the actual experience of going through the simulation, they gained a lot from that, even without necessarily having the exposure to patients.”

SimX, another revolutionary medical technology, is allowing students to have customizable experiences with virtual reality patients of all walks of life. This system offers a virtual patient that provides a much more realistic feel than the traditional dummy patient that did not accurately display the actual patient. While using the SimX technology, the user experiences a virtual clinical setting, and can talk to the patient to simulate diagnosis.

SimX CEO Dr. Ryan Ribeira spoke on the versatility of the system, stating that, “You can have a patient give birth over the course of the scenario and then treat the patient and the baby. These are things that would be almost impossible to recreate with mannequins or robotic physical simulators.”

Source: AMA