Virtual Patient Simulation Medcases

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Rafał Ferenc
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Medcases Virtual Patient


Medical studies require acquiring information from many fields (as evidenced by the statutory minimum number of 5700 hours of classes - not including the time of self-study!).
It is equally important to simultaneously acquire the ability to apply theoretical knowledge to practical conduct. This is a difficult challenge, especially in the face of the growing number of students in practice groups resulting from the epidemiological restrictions of limiting classes with the patient, the relatively small number of hours of classes assigned to simulation centers, and the emphasis on memorizing theoretical details.

What if there was a place where you could acquire proficiency in examining, diagnosing, and treating the patients and where independent decisions are made in safe conditions? A platform resembling a computer game in which you can play the role of a doctor at any time and from anywhere in the world?

In response to the urgent need for practical education and meeting medical students' expectations, solutions based on new technologies are emerging.

What is a Virtual Patient (VP)? What is a Simulated Patient (SP)?

It is an interactive tool enabling practical learning based on solving medical cases. Like in real life, the diagnosis is made after collecting an interview, conducting a physical examination, and ordering appropriate additional tests. After the diagnosis, therapeutic procedures affecting the patient's condition are implemented (depending on the accuracy of our decisions, it may improve or worsen).

Why are simulated medical cases important in doctors' education?

Implementing medical simulation in medical education makes it possible to use knowledge in conditions similar to real conditions and to develop the right way of dealing with various situations (the so-called "ability to think clinically").
Thanks to its form, the Virtual Patient gives the opportunity to safely make mistakes and summarize the case, which medical students and beginner doctors appreciate.
Case-solving learning effectively improves theoretical knowledge and develops conscious clinical management, increasing confidence in dealing with an actual patient.

Is learning based on a Virtual Patient effective?

Numerous studies confirm that learning based on solving medical cases is more effective than the traditional form of teaching:

  1. 8186 papers were analyzed, 19 of which met the inclusion criteria.
    The areas of clinical reasoning showed improvement in most cases: data collection (improvement in 71% of works), a broad view of differential diagnosis (improvement in 80% of works), and therapeutic management (improvement in 83% of works).
  2. The study investigated the procedure of medical students in simulation with an actor before and after the exercise, with the help of a Virtual Patient.
    Twenty participants were evaluated on a scale from 1 to 3 (where "1" means lack of mastery of skills, and "3" means an expert level skill).
    A point improvement was observed in all aspects: history (1.5 ->2.5; increase by 67%), physical examination (1.4 -> 2.5; increase by 79%), clinical assessment (1.3 -> 2.4; increase by 85%), accuracy of additional tests ordered (1.25 -> 2.4; increase by 92%) and the ability to present the case (1.2 -> 2.4; increase by 100%)
  3. The study aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of virtual medical simulation in improving clinical reasoning skills among medical students and to compare advances in knowledge or clinical reasoning skills in specific clinical scenarios.
    210 students of the fourth year of medicine were examined (169 students completed the program).
    The study included 2 hours of exercises using the Body Interact program. Participants showed a significant increase in test results, both in the case of knowledge and more clearly in part
    on clinical reasoning. Examples: management of disorders of consciousness (25.4% -> 75.7%), management of fainting (53.8% -> 79.3%), differential diagnosis of hypoglycaemia (24.3% -> 82.2%)
  4. 51 studies involving 4696 participants were included in the review. Skills that have been improved include clinical reasoning, technical performance of medical procedures, and a combination of procedural and team skills. The effectiveness of learning clinical skills using the Virtual Patient, compared to traditional learning, expressed in a standardized average of differences was SMD=0.90.

  1. The effectiveness of using virtual patient educational tools to improve medical students' clinical reasoning skills: a systematic review
    Ruth Plackett, Angelos P. Kassianos, Sophie Mylan, Maria Kambouri, Rosalind Raine & Jessica Sheringham
    BMC Medical Education volume 22, Article number: 365 (2022)
    https://bmcmededuc.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12909-022-03410-x
  2. The virtual patient as a learning tool: a mixed quantitative, qualitative study
    Andrés Isaza-Restrepo, María Teresa Gómez, Gary Cifuentes & Arturo Argüello
    BMC Medical Education volume 18, Article number: 297 (2018)
    https://bmcmededuc.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12909-018-1395-8
  3. The Utility of Virtual Patient Simulations for Clinical Reasoning Education
    Takashi Watari, Yasuharu Tokuda, Meiko Owada and Kazumichi Onigata
    Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug; 17(15): 5325.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432110/
  4. Virtual Patient Simulations in Health Professions Education: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis by the Digital Health Education Collaboration
    Andrzej A Kononowicz, MSc, PhD,1 Luke A Woodham, MSc,2,3 Samuel Edelbring, PhD ,3,4,5 Natalia Stathakarou, MSc,3 David Davies, PhD,6 Nakul Saxena, PhD,7 Lorainne Tudor Car, MD, MSc, PhD ,8,9 Jan Carlstedt-Duke, MD, PhD,10 Josip Car, MD, PhD, FRCPE, FFPH,corresponding author11,12 and Nabil Zary, PhD13,14
    J Med Internet Res. 2019 Jul; 21(7):
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6632099/

Why choose Medcases? What distinguishes our Virtual Patient?

A wide database of clinical cases is created by experienced doctors, and its development is supported by artificial intelligence. Thanks to this connection, the user can access an infinite number of Virtual Patients, and each case is unique.
On our platform, case solving reflects a real visit. The interview covers a wide range of questions. During the physical examination, visual inspection, auscultation, palpation, percussion, and neurological examination are possible.
Unlike other applications, the additional medical tests for Medcases are not limited, and we interpret the results ourselves - ECG, chest X-ray, blood tests... it is up to us what we consider essential in the diagnosis.
Conveying the actual conditions means we have to consider the consequences of our actions.
First of all, tests cost money. When we exceed the budget, we will not gain the recognition of superiors, and we can expect a deduction of points for expenses. Secondly - patients react to our decisions. Computed tomography of the abdomen in a pregnant patient is not the best idea, and intravenous contrast administration to an iodine-sensitized patient may end tragically.
It is similar to the treatment – depending on the therapeutic procedure's accuracy, the Virtual Patient's condition may improve, remain unchanged or worsen. Finally, we are given an analysis that indicates the strengths of clinical management and the aspects that should be improved.

Medcases creates a community focused on Virtual Patients. Under most simulations, there is an overview of the author of the case, and the comments section is conducive to exchanging experiences and dispelling doubts.

Medcases isn't just a Virtual Patient!

By joining Medcases, you receive access to thematic courses, articles, and exams, including the Question Base for the polish Medical Final Examination, divided into thematic sections along with the author's comments!
Our platform also comprehensively analyzes effectiveness in diagnosing and treating Virtual Patients in the "Statistics" tab.
Are you motivated by the competition? Excellent! We run the Top Users Ranking.
Who knows, maybe in the next month, you will be fighting for first place in the Top 10!

We also operate outside the Medcases platform.

We invite you to our Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok for a daily portion of interesting facts, quizzes, interviews, and fascinating medical cases!

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Rafał Ferenc
Clinical Team Leader

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