Virtual patients, Real Experience
Why is there a need for CyberPatient?
An enormous gap exists between the delivery of theoretical knowledge and practical learning in medicine. There is no tool to close this gap.
As a result, medical students have no choice but to gain practical knowledge on real patients making it harder to enter clinical practice prepared and confident. Unprepared and less confident medical students can create additional costs and unnecessary risks to patients.
What does Cyberpatient do?
CyberPatient closes the gap between the theory and practice of medicine by providing medical students with an interactive learning platform consisting of a variety of medical cases to practice on.
Students can sharpen their abilities for history taking, physical examinations, diagnosis, treatment and follow- up of patients. This improves their decision making abilities and competencies in a virtual clinical environment that mimics the real-world experience.
The Story of CyberPatient
By: Dr. Karim Qayumi
"Standing in the middle of a USSR emergency room with people screaming in pain all around me, I realized medical school didn’t prepare me for this."
During my medical clerkship program, and my first-time on-call, it got so busy I had to go to the emergency room by myself and help patients. People were coming in with acute appendicitis, cholecystitis, and all other sorts of trauma. It was mayhem. From my teachings in medical school, I fully understood the way medical education is organized and how this should go: etiology, pathogenesis than the signs and symptoms. As I looked around at the panicked faces, one young woman pointing to her stomach with tears streaming down her face, I realized the textbooks I read weren’t going to help me here. I was stunned, rendered motionless as I saw patients being wheeled away in front of me. The only thing I could do was wait for the physician-on-call to arrive, so I could learn from him how to read signs and symptoms. Only then could I discover the etiology and pathogenesis. That night when I came home I kept replaying the day in my head. The books I had studied were all in reverse, it was the opposite of real life, and so I realized I now had to work backward from the knowledge I had learned when treating each patient.
This defining moment, so early in my career, where the impact of this vast gap between theoretical and practical knowledge was so evident, was the seed that sowed CyberPatient many years later. Closing this gap became somewhat of an obsession. I just didn’t know how. As the years went on, and I continued teaching medicine in different countries, I realized that the gap between theory and practice in medical education exists everywhere. I also noticed that developing nations were not only lacking in practical knowledge due to the shortage of resources but that there was no infrastructure for theoretical knowledge to flourish. I decided I wanted to write a book on the symptomatology of disease. When I arrived in Canada I was introduced to multimedia software programs. This led me to my eureka moment: I thought, “why don’t we create a virtual program that mimics the patient in a clinical environment?” I now had access to the resources and technologies to help tackle the “learning gap” I had experienced early on in my career; one that puts patients, doctors, and hospitals at serious risk. It was then that CyberPatient was born.
About the Founder:
Dr. Karim Qayumi
Karim Qayumi, MD, Ph.D., FRCSC is a Professor of Surgery at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Founder of the UBC Centre of Excellence for Simulation Education and Innovation (CESEI). He is also a Chair of the Technology Enabled Learning for Vancouver Coastal Health, and the Regional Director of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Karim has extensive international teaching experience obtaining 11 awards in the field of medicine, including the most prestigious award from The University of British Columbia in 1999 – The Killam Teaching Prize. He is the author of 109 peer-reviewed publications and has been invited to lecture and present at over 200 conferences and meetings. One of his books “Basic Surgical Techniques” is translated into many languages including Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish and others.
He has completed a variety of research projects. Recently, Karim’s focus is on technology-related research and innovation. Amongst his patents and innovations, there is the development of technologies such as an online Learning Management System, called “Electronic Platform for Education and Research or e-PER,” as well as robotics for tele-homecare and patient-centered medical records.
Also, he is the Founder and CEO of CanHealth International, a registered Canadian non-profit charity, that aims to equalize health education between developed and developing countries