UB Medical School to Develop Tools for Cloud-Based Simulations of Patient Visits

UB is one of eight institutions in the U.S. chosen to write patient cases

The American Medical Association is providing funding to support the University at Buffalo (UB) School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and other institutions in a national consortium to develop simulated, interactive “encounters” with virtual patients to supplement the education of students in the third year of medical school.

The i-Human Patients platform is a cloud-based service for medical students that simulates a patient visit. Students use the software to interview and examine animations of patients, order and review diagnostic tests, develop diagnostic hypotheses and create a treatment plan. Online guidance and comprehensive feedback occurs at every step of the process.

Avery Ellis, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and physiology and senior associate dean for medical curriculum at UB, is one of 8 faculty members at prestigious institutions throughout the U.S., who will be working together to develop simulations for internal medicine. Ellis and Susan J. Gallagher, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at UB and director for internal medicine clerkships in the third and fourth years, will be writing cases on chest pain, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, edema, electrolyte abnormalities, syncope, dizziness and hyperlipidemia.

The new cases are expected to be completed, peer-reviewed and included in the curriculum that third-year medical students at UB experience starting in July, Ellis says.

“These very sophisticated patient simulations will round out the education of third-year medical students,” says Ellis. “For our students, working on these patient simulations, complete with actual test results and realistic clinical data, such as audible heart sounds, angiograms and ultrasound studies, is far more beneficial than just reading about the same disease in a textbook.”

The cases are being prepared by faculty at UB and at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Northwestern University, Tufts University, Rush University and Stony Brook University.

“These interactive web-based patient encounters will nicely complement the other kinds of experiences our students are getting at UB’s Behling Simulation Center,” Ellis adds.

“The American Medical Association is funding the development of medical school cases and other interactive content for the i-Human Patients educational services platform because we see a need to accelerate student training in patient assessment and diagnostic skills,” says James Madara, chief executive officer/education vice president for the AMA.

i-Human Patients Inc. is a designer and developer of “virtual” medical training products and services.

Ellen Goldbaum (UB); goldbaum@buffalo.edu; 716.645.4605

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