Virtual Patients Project
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Virtual Patients Project

August 1, 2011
A medical student speaks with a virtual patient complaining of abdominal pain. The student sees a life-sized virtual human and communicates with speech and gestures to learn communication skills. The visual was created as part of the Virtual Patients Project developed at the department of computer and information science and engineering at the University of Florida, and supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (awarded to principal investigator Benjamin Lok).

The project involves developing highly immersive virtual human (VH) interactions that will train health profession students (medical, nursing and physician assistant) to better their communication and interpersonal skills. To teach these skills, Lok and his group built an immersive virtual patient (VP) system that simulates a standardized patient (SP) encounter. These immersive VPs are highly interactive, in 3-D VHs. In the 10-minute experience, the student speaks, gestures and can touch the VP in order to practice having a patient-doctor interview. Over 450 medical, nursing and physician assistant students, as well as residents and physicians have used the system so far at three universities: the University of Florida, the Medical College of Georgia and Keele University School of Pharmacy.

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