SIMmersion Launches Web-based Simulations to Provide Automated Objective Assessment of Conversation Skills

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SIMmersion’s online assessments provide a time- and cost-effective mechanism for discovering and correcting conversational errors made by healthcare practitioners in counseling sessions. While their first products target the healthcare market, products aimed at law enforcement and commercial enterprises are coming soon.

If there’s a conversational skill that can be measured, we can develop a simulation to assess it.

SIMmersion® has made a technological breakthrough in assessment technology with the potential to increase the quality of counseling services provided by practitioners everywhere in America. From drugs to medical protocols to hospital procedures, most aspects of healthcare are highly regulated, but the complexity and cost of monitoring and assessing the fidelity of conversational skills has been a challenge for the counseling community. SIMmersion’s assessment tools will help to change that.

The traditional methods of assessing counselors’ adherence to evidence-based practices are labor-intensive processes involving role-players or recording and coding of real sessions. These burdensome protocols are difficult to scale and create opportunities for human biases to affect results. Consequently, many practitioners have been doing the wrong things while counseling clients, while regulatory and educational institutions have been lacking a clear mechanism to discover and correct their errors. SIMmersion’s assessments are a time- and cost-effective way to support states pushing to adopt more data-driven evidence-based practices.

SIMmersion’s assessment tools provide an objective, automated way to assess providers’ fidelity to evidence-based practices without the possibility of bias. SIMmersion’s PeopleSim® Conversation Engine drives highly realistic conversations with virtual patients, portrayed in video by trained actors. Everything participants choose to say feeds into an advanced emotional model, making patients more forthcoming or defensive over time. SIMmersion’s Non-Branching Logic™ provides almost infinite variation in the conversations, so there is no way to cheat.

SIMmersion developed the first examples, “Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Training System” and “Motivational Interviewing with Jack Grant,” with funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (Grant #R42 AA016486) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant # R43/R44 DA023767). Leading independent subject matter experts in the fields of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and Motivational Interviewing collaborated on the projects.

The virtual conversations automatically score each role-play against rubrics based on assessments validated in the field (e.g. AUDIT for SBIRT, MITI for Motivational Interviewing), logging results securely in the cloud, with user confidentiality handled in strict compliance with specific institutional review board requirements.

SIMmersion’s virtual characters deliver consistently high-quality role-plays for all participants, even as the variety built into the PeopleSim Engine ensures that no two conversations play exactly the same (protecting against practitioners sharing a single “correct” path to the end). Scoring is immediate and objective. SIMmersion can customize the risk level and particular personality of the virtual characters to the organizations’ needs, and can adjust the difficulty of each conversation to match the desired level of challenge. SIMmersion’s assessment tools can evaluate any number of participants online simultaneously, anywhere, at any time of day.

SIMmersion started out with assessments for healthcare practitioners, but tools aimed for other markets are coming soon. Within the next few months, SIMmersion will have tools to evaluate management skills, sales skills, job interview skills, and interrogation skills.

“If there’s a conversational skill that can be measured, we can develop a simulation to assess it,” says Chip Trimmier, SIMmersion’s Capture Manager & General Counsel. “The possibilities are wide open.”

About SIMmersion

SIMmersion combines the world's most realistic simulated experiences with highly interactive training content and extensive user feedback to support the training and assessment needs of institutions of all sizes. To learn about the research proving the technology enhances 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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