SIMmersion Exhibits Healthcare Suite to Key Visionaries and Reformers in Medical Education at 2015 ChangeMedEd Conference

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Medical schools can provide better training to students through computer simulations created using SIMmersion’s PeopleSim® technology with Non-Branching Logic™. These simulations provide some strong advantages over interactions with standardized patients.

SIMmersion’s medical simulations provide both clinical realism and objective assessment with consistent expert feedback to improve students’ performance.

SIMmersion’s ability to present dynamic scenarios and realistic human interactions could be of critical importance to the medical schools of the future. To reach an audience of key visionaries and reformers in medical education, SIMmersion exhibited its healthcare suite at the 2015 ChangeMedEd conference in Chicago, organized by the American Medical Association.

AMA President Steven Stack, MD, spoke about the need for medical schools to help students become “master adaptive learners” who continue to assess and develop throughout their careers. Some are experimenting with a change from the sequential model—education followed by clinical experience—to simultaneous exposure to both knowledge and practice. Having medical students master a scenario presented with SIMmersion’s PeopleSim® technology and Non-Branching Logic™ before exposing actual patients to any risk could have powerful results for the future of healthcare.

Medical schools often use standardized patients, people specially trained to portray a person with a medical problem, to develop and assess medical students’ skills. Standardized patients are the cornerstone of Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs) throughout medical school as well as the critical Step 2—Clinical Skills exam before licensure. However, computer simulations have many advantages over standardized patients. In addition to their expense, standardized patients have a limited schedule. They must stay within the confines of a limited script, and interactions with more than one student at a time might have less value to some participants. Standardized patients’ performances and assessments will vary, even by the same individual. On the other hand, simulations are available for use any time of day, anywhere a student can access a computer or mobile device, and the experience is always consistent..

A computer screen might not be better for teaching the physical examination of a human, but interacting with a well-designed system is better for teaching students how to talk with a patient. Instead of relying on the training of an individual standardized patient, SIMmersion works with a panel of experts to generate the scenario, variations, and dialogue to provide a consistent, realistic experience for students, while Non-Branching Logic™ also ensures that no two conversations will be exact duplicates. After considering the simulated patient’s personality and emotional state, the system considers what the student and patient already said before responding with a weighted random selection. The nearly free-form conversation is different with each use, encouraging repetition.

"The schools training with us love the level of interactivity and realism in our simulations,” says SIMmersion’s Ben Allen-Kingsland, “and the fact that they provide objective assessment data for skills that are frequently hard to pin down."

In SIMmersion’s medical systems, a professional actor portrays the verbal and non-verbal reactions of a character whose demeanor changes as user choices affect rapport, providing a level of realism that avatar-based systems can’t. Because the circumstances of the conversation vary between uses, students must apply different learning strategies. Game-like role-plays provide realistic challenges to encourage repeated use. SIMmersion’s Non-Branching Logic™ prevents having one “right” or “wrong” choice.

SIMmersion’s medical simulations provide both clinical realism and objective assessment with consistent expert feedback to improve students’ performance. An on-screen coach provides insight on each exchange. A color-coded transcript identifies areas for improvement. After each interview, scoring screens provide qualitative and quantitative feedback on each objective. Presenting students with options—both good and bad—of what they can say has a real training advantage, especially when students know they can intentionally choose the bad option without repercussions just to see what happens. The simulation’s privacy and individualized coaching removes the stress, judgment and negative consequences of mistakes, focusing on the teachable moment.

SIMmersion’s healthcare suite spans many vital topics, from Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to the safe prescribing of opioid medication. The newest medical simulation, “Engaging Adolescent Patients About Marijuana Use,” a companion to last year's “Talking to Patients about Health Risk Behaviors,” teaches about using motivational interviewing with teens in primary care. Both simulations received funding from the NIDA/SAMHSA Blending Initiative and are currently free to use online at With realistic virtual patients, authentic clinical scenarios, as well as robust coaching and scoring tools, SIMmersion’s simulations can help medical students become master adaptive learners poised to thrive in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.

About SIMmersion

SIMmersion’s mission is to train skills faster and more effectively by combining the world's most realistic simulated experiences with highly interactive training content and extensive user feedback. To learn about the research proving the technology improves real-world results, please visit SIMmersion’s website at For more information, contact SIMmersion online or at 443-283-2555.

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Dale Olsen
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