VHA tests virtual patient platform to hone clinical skills

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has selected Decision Simulation's DecisionSim as its "virtual patient platform" to help VHA providers improve their clinical decision making skills. The contract for an initial pilot of the application is worth about $1 million.

A web-based "branched narrative" application, DecisionSim will be used in the VA's SimLEARN (Simulation, Learning, Education and Research Network) program of simulation training, which includes mannequin-based training, virtual patients, standard patients (human actors) and virtual environments.

SimLEARN is a joint project of the VHA's Employee Education System, the Office of Patient Care Services and the Office of Nursing Services. The program "is developing curricula to address national clinical priorities, including women Veteran's health and surgical team training. The program also provides model operational policies, procedures, standards and guidelines for VHA simulation activities," according to a fact sheet.

DecisionSim will allow VHA providers to review and practice systems-based protocols while applying clinical reasoning skills to each situation. About 43,000 VHA employees across the U.S. are expected to use the virtual patient application during the next year.

In the branched narrative learning approach, DecisionSim users explore different decision paths and observe the consequences of their decisions with regard to the virtual patients. Thus they receive immediate feedback on their choices, enabling them to hone their clinical reasoning skills, according to Decision Simulation.

Based in Chadds Ford, Pa., Decision Simulation was formed in 2010 to commercialize its virtual patient technology. Before winning the VHA contract, the company teamed with Catapult Technology, a health IT project management firm that has past experience working with the government agency.

To learn more:
- read the press release
- see the VHA fact sheet on SimLEARN 

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