A virtual hospital designed to train doctors

Thanks to the virtual hospital, medical education is being transformed by the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country and Cruces Hospital

  • Research

First publication date: 26/02/2020

The UPV/EHU and the Hospital of Cruces transform medical education thanks to the virtual hospital. (UPV/EHU).

During its 10-year existence the José M. Rivera Virtual Hospital has succeeded in getting simulation understood as a component enabling the practice of clinical experience to take place in a controlled environment. The UPV/EHU has published an article covering all the knowledge gained over these last ten years; it deals specifically with the potential of simulation in healthcare, among other things.

A virtual hospital offers the same features as a hospital, although the patient is “not real”; it is a centre that aims to enable health professionals to train “with the utmost realism”, in other words, they train as if they were treating a real patient.  

The José M. Rivera Virtual Hospital is offering equipment that allows the students “to acquire a set of skills and capabilities while avoiding any risk to the patient as a result of this learning”, said Joaquin Losada-Rodríguez, researcher in the UPV/EHU’s Department of Surgery, Radiology and Physical Medicine and author of this work. “Thanks to an environment and patients who are realistic without being real, the students can experiment and gain an insight into future hospital situations in which they will find themselves, while they need not be afraid of making mistakes with the patient during learning,” added Losada.

“Clinical skills are classified as technical or non-technical ones,“ explained Losada. Technical skills are linked to professional performance, such as producing a medical history or closing wounds by means of stitches. Social skills (ability to communicate, leadership, etc.), cognitive ones (information processing and problem solving) and ethical ones are known as non-technical ones. “To learn technical and non-technical skills in health sciences, training in computer technology and social sciences is required,” said Joaquin Losada.

The paradigm shift in education is based, among other things, on simulation and digital technology. “The philosophy underpinning simulation is that learning should be based on experience,” remarked Losada. “Virtual reality is a digital technology in environments generated using a computer to obtain practical clinical knowledge. For example, its use in laparoscopic colon surgery has improved knowledge and is more effective and offers a more rigorous assessment than less interactive procedures. Student feedback questionnaires support these data about the quality of instruction received in comparison with traditional teaching and the new technologies,” added the UPV/EHU researcher.

What is more, Losada is optimistic because the joint use of the virtual hospital by two organisations like the UPV/EHU and the health service has enriched the degree studies and specialised training in medical education.

The researcher insists that “the virtual hospital is an essential component for the new model of learning that complements the traditional model based on teacher-led learning”. However, following the ten years that it has been in existence, the researcher highlighted “the need to update, in other words, the need to incorporate new technologies, new knowledge, etc. because surgical techniques are being revolutionised and modified”.

Bibliographic reference