Physical-Virtual Patient Bed for Healthcare Training and Assessment

Virtual Humans comprise dynamic computer graphics renderings of humans that can readily exhibit a range of appearances including medical symptoms, race, and gender; and visual/verbal behavior. However, they are inherently virtual; you cannot touch them and they are in their own environment. Human Patient Simulators or “manikins” on the other hand are inherently physical. They comprise human-sized bodies with realistic skin and electro-mechanical simulation of physiological symptoms. They offer a very “hands on” experience for individuals or teams, yet they are visually static—they cannot change patient demographics (e.g., race and gender) or present visual medical symptoms. In addition, medical educators are increasingly focusing on interpersonal skills and cultural competency, as these impact the provider-patient relationships, hence diagnoses and treatments. Physical manikins do not afford such humanistic traits. We are working to combine the flexibility of Virtual Humans with the physicality of manikins to develop a complementary Physical-Virtual Patient Bed (PVPB) for the training and assessment of healthcare professionals. Our PVPB patient will talk, sweat, breath, feel warm/cold, and sense touch. It will change race, gender, and visually-apparent symptoms on the fly. It will exhibit real human emotional complexity via realistic rendering and human behaviors. We will develop the necessary methods to realize the PVPB and use it to develop new knowledge about the relative importance of patient cues, and provider biases arising from patient demographics.