Virtual Human Simulation Teaches Future Docs Communication Skills
As virtual reality (VR) improves and becomes more accessible, efforts have been taken to utilize VR in medical training. A new study published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling investigated effective communication between medical students and virtual humans in various scenarios.
‘MPathic-VR’, developed by Medical Cyberworlds, facilitates a real time conversation with emotive and reactive virtual humans. The technology is able to examine body language, facial expression and communication strategies.
The researchers approached their study with the belief that communication is the most important part of a doctor-patient relationship. “Finding an effective way to assess and teach advanced health care communication skills has been a long-standing challenge,” said study co-author Michael Fetters, MD. “Medical learners have a great need for practical, innovative methods to help them master the complexities of health care communication and develop excellent communication skills – both verbal and nonverbal. Ours is the first-ever research showing that it can be done effectively with virtual reality.”
The trial randomized 421 medical students to either the MPathic-VR (n=210) or traditional computer-based learning (n=211) and compared scores on the advanced communication skills objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).