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Programmable patients: simulation of consultation skills in a virtual environment


The School of Pharmacy has developed 3D characters in a virtual environment to simulate interaction between the learner and a virtual patient. Interaction with the patient is possible through the use of multiple choice questions or ‘natural’ free text questions. Each patient can be programmed with different scenarios and medical history from a Windows-based interface to ‘program’ a patient without the need for programming skills. Free text input allows Virtual Patients to ‘grow’ in intelligence. The patient’s knowledgebase is located on the internet, which provides the ability for virtual patients to respond to new questions. 3D animation and audio for new responses are also updateable across this medium. At the centre of each virtual patient case is a ‘decision tree’ providing clinical experience and published evidence basis for a case. It also provides a mechanism to assess the learner consistently against learning outcomes. The virtual patient gives an animated audio response to the learner at the conclusion of a virtual consultation. This demonstration offers the opportunity to explore our virtual patient technology, the description of a patient case and its decision tree. It will also draw on the pedagogical background and experience of using this system for our undergraduate MPharm.

Acceptance Date Nov 1, 2010
Publication Date Nov 1, 2010
Journal Bio-algorithms and Medical-Systems
Print ISSN 1896-530X
Publisher De Gruyter
Pages 111 -115
Keywords patient, simulation, consultation skills, virtual environment

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