In a first, scientists use life-like virtual humans to help doctors learn empathy

Researchers created two virtual humans - Robin and Delmy - that are intelligent and conversational, and have the capacity to interact using a wide range of communication behaviours shared in typical face-to-face dialogue.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Apr 30, 2017, 22:17 PM IST
 In a first, scientists use life-like virtual humans to help doctors learn empathy
Representational image

New Delhi: For the first time, scientists are using life-like virtual humans to train doctors on how to express empathy to patients and their family members.

Researchers created two virtual humans - Robin and Delmy - that are intelligent and conversational, and have the capacity to interact using a wide range of communication behaviours shared in typical face-to-face dialogue.

Such intuitive interactions could help aspiring doctors better prepare for difficult and emotionally charged encounters with patients and hospital colleagues, researchers said.

"Communication is the most important part of the doctor- patient relationship," said Frederick Kron, from the University of Michigan in the US.

"We found that virtual human simulation was an engaging and effective tool to teach medical students advanced communication skills and, very importantly, that skills in the simulation transferred into a more realistic clinical situation," said Kron, who is also the founder of Medical Cyberworlds, that developed the virtual reality programme.

Research shows that poor clinician communication skills may contribute to lower levels of patient satisfaction, poorer health outcomes, and higher risk of complaints and malpractice claims.

Poor communication is among the most frequently identified causes for events that can lead to preventable patient harm or even death.

(With PTI inputs)