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Virtual Hospital

1 May 2021

Players’ communication with the virtual patients are recorded for review.

Left photo: The monitor showed a low blood pressure of this ‘patient’. Right photo: The player checked the record of the patient and noticed a sudden decrease in blood pressure. The player and the students engaged in the game had to decide what care the patient needed.

Dr Kitty Chan, Senior Teaching Fellow of the School of Nursing (& Principal Investigator of the project) and her team* has developed the Virtual Hospital that use virtual reality technology to offer an innovative experiential learning solution to nursing students, amid suspension of face-to-face teaching and clinical placements in hospitals and clinics.

Under the COVID-19 situation, the Nursing Council of Hong Kong has allowed a certain percentage of simulated learning to substitute clinical practice experience. The Virtual Hospital is an alternative means that helps students develop competence to bridge their learning gap in practicum.

Set in a general ward of a hospital, the system randomly generates simulated scenarios that focus on three themes: patient safety, priority of care, handling of unexpected incidents/multiple events. Players are expected to identify settings in the ‘hospital’ that may cause safety problems, complete nursing tasks within a limited time or prioritise tasks. Players’ ability to prevent errors while handling unexpected incidents/multiple events is also tested through the VR games.

A special feature of the Virtual Hospital is its flexibility to be used together with a plasma TV and tablets, which allows players’ responses and decisions to be shown in the plasma TV for whole group participation. Players’ communication with the virtual patients is recorded for review. With the tablets, other students are not passive observers, and they can engage in the scenarios and respond to the situations by answering the multiple choice questions together with the players. Another uniqueness lies in its strength to generate multiple medical events that cause distractions to players.

‘The Virtual Hospital provides students collaborative case-based problem-solving opportunities. They will engage in medical events that distract them from care delivery. Through the VR experiential learning, debriefing and group discussion, students share different ideas or solutions and learn how to act appropriately while being distracted, communicate effectively, and make clinical decisions,’ said Dr Kitty Chan.

Dr Kitty Chan expected that the Virtual Hospital supplements our current practice on patient simulators or simulated patients and helps students enhance their ability to apply knowledge, improve clinical reasoning, therapeutic communications skills, critical thinking skills, and reduce errors in actual clinical situations. The game data and the automated assessment function of the system also provide conveniences to teachers in tracking students’ progress and evaluating learning outcomes.

The School has developed eight Virtual Hospital systems and they will be used in the Nursing Therapeutics subjects starting from next semester (September 2021) .

*Team members: Dr Rick Kwan (Co-Principal Investigator), Dr Kin Cheung, Dr Justina Liu, Mr Timothy Lai. The Virtual Hospital is funded by the PolyU Large Equipment Fund.

Press Contacts

Miss Helen Hsu

Communications Manager, School of Nursing

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