Monday, March 9, 2015

Virtual Patients and EHRs - Both great, but very different.

We recently attended the COADN conference in San Diego and met a lot of amazing schools and vendors. Like always, we thought we'd highlight a great vendor and point out a few differences between their product and ours for the sake of clarity.

In the past, we've heard from some schools that have Shadow Health and no longer believe they need an EHR system. We'd like to clarify that Shadow Health and EHR Tutor have almost no overlap... but Shadow Health's virtual patients are really cool nonetheless. If you haven't seen them yet, you should definitely take a look at their website.

As we understand it after playing with their program a bit at this last conference, Shadow Health provides an amazing virtual simulation for Health Assessments and Pharmacology. Their virtual patients are incredibly smart and can even answer a huge array of unrelated questions (for example, "what's your favorite color?"). As the student goes through the scenario, there is a very limited amount of charting available which is designed only to chart what the patient says during either the assessment or pharmacology scenario. This is a great way to practice patient skills and we adore their product (and how weirdly lifelike their patients can be!), but it's not an EHR replacement... or an EHR system. And that's ok!

While students can record what they need to during the assessment as a way to record their understanding of the patient, the charting is limited to only what's necessary for that scenario.

An EHR system on the other hand, allows students to simulate the full charting experience. It can also be integrated into all aspects of a curriculum. Instead of just recording answers, an EHR system can be used any time you're in a Skills Lab, Simulation Lab or working with human volunteers as "patients" to both review patient information (and practice critical thinking skills when it comes to deciding what past information is important to the patient's care or not) and enter patient information for all aspects of a scenario including Vital Signs, Daily Care and Hygiene, Medications, and more. The charting is not limited to a single scenario -- you can always add to a scenario, create your own, or have students start from scratch with a blank chart.

You can also use an electronic charting system to have students record information and create a Care Plan after clinicals or review a patient scenario during a lecture in class to make a diagnosis more tangible. It's not just a way to record the results from a single simulation - it's a way to incorporate critical thinking and charting into all aspects of your program.

So we just wanted to say that we LOVE Shadow Health and encourage all of the schools out there who currently have a Skills Lab but can't afford an upgraded Simulation Lab to check them out. However, having EHR Tutor is a completely separate tool and we'd love to speak to you about our program as well and how it can be used at every level with your students.