Meet VRpatients, the US-based company immersing students in lifelike, stress-inducing clinical case scenarios where they interview, assess, diagnose and treat patients in real time
VRpatients sales director Tom Cox, EMT-P (ret.) reveals how a high level of customisation and a gamified learning experience deliver both flexibility and increased knowledge retention
VRWT: What’s the story behind VRpatients?
Tom Cox: VRpatients, and its parent company, Virtual Education Systems, began as a virtual reality training startup funded by Cincinnati, Ohio-based tech incubator CincyTech and Columbus, Ohio-based Rev1 Ventures before it was acquired in 2018. Since then, the entire platform, including the user interface and experience, clinical case scenarios, environments and authoring tool have been rebuilt and rebranded as VRpatients. The company started out with 10 employees in 2016 and currently employs 25.
VRWT: Your core platform is fully customisable. Why did you go down this route for training?
Tom Cox: Formerly, there was no single application for healthcare trainers or educators that allowed them to build simulative/emergency medical services clinical cases from scratch and deploy them in an immersive learning environment. Modern learners had evolved beyond traditional classroom and sim lab training, preferring the gamification experience of virtual reality. Plus, the capital expense of sim devices and environments, such as mannequins, facilities/travel and time were increasingly cost-prohibitive.
VRpatients answers these challenges by providing immersive, interactive training in real-time at a low-cost point of entry. Its built-in clinical case authoring tool allows educators and trainers to have complete control and ownership of the clinical case scenarios, delivering them ‘how they want it, when they want it’.
When the student user goes under the virtual reality headset or logs in online, they experience lifelike patient modeling, real-time responsiveness, realistic moulage and animations presenting in living environments. Just like real life, this induces stress and builds knowledge retention. The application’s enhanced grading rubric allows the educator or trainer to objectively assess the student’s performance and identify skill or knowledge gaps.
Moreover, the subscription-based cost model can be more easily incorporated into budgets.
VRWT: How well suited is this kind of gamified experience to emergency medical services training? And what are some of the results your users have achieved?
Tom Cox: Modern learners grew up in a gaming world, and its use in education has become more and more widespread, even preferred. Combine this with the immediate adjustment to new learning mandates caused by Covid-19 that instantly launched educators, trainers, employers and students into an online, remote learning environment. The challenge in healthcare education then lies in how to ensure both learning and assessment of skills from a distance is as effective remotely as it is in person.
VRpatients immerses students in lifelike, stress-inducing clinical case scenarios where they interview, assess, diagnose and treat patients in real time. Every action taken by the student is recorded by its built-in grading rubric, allowing the educator to objectively assess the student’s critical thinking skills, competency and field preparedness. Unlike other simulation tools, VRpatients is equipped with an intuitive case authoring tool, giving educators complete control of curriculum, standards of care, and protocols.
Our users have reported both increased efficiency and knowledge retention in their staff. Users love the flexibility of the case authoring tool, and ability to build nearly any clinical case from a blank slate, exactly how they want it. They also love being able to deploy it remotely from anywhere, to any number of individuals, which is incredibly helpful in this new social distancing, no-contact training world we live in. Some of our users even report using the platform as a pre-employment screening tool because they can objectively assess a practitioner’s clinical competency in a matter of minutes before extending a hiring offer.
VRWT: What do you have in store for the rest of 2020 and 2021?
Tom Cox: Our team of developers are constantly adding additional functionalities to the platform. Some of our upcoming plans include, but are not limited to, adding ‘multiplayer’ functionality, which will allow more than one practitioner to interact with a patient at the same time and more than one patient at the same time. We will also be adding several additional environments and patient avatars, including pediatrics.
VRWT: How can interested parties get in touch?
Tom Cox: Contact us at www.vrpatients.com and sign up for a free demo.
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Main image: The VRpatients platform