DS04 - Vie, santé et bien-être

Virtual Patient Simulation Tool for Training Health and Social Care Staff Working with People with Alzheimer's Disease or Related dementia – VIRTUALZ

Submission summary

Taking care of the growing population of people with dementia worldwide requires specifically-trained healthcare professionals.Their training should not only involve foundational knowledge but also skills to communicate effectively with people with dementia, cope with care challenges and guarantee patients’ safety and dignity.However, constrained resources and limited clinical exposure for learners negatively impact the quality and consistency of training.As a result many healthcare professionals face patients with dementia with insufficient communication skills, increasing the risk of negative interactions, exhaustion and, ultimately, abusive practices.Virtual Patient (VP) simulations are already used as cost-effective tools for training healthcare professionals in many disciplines (emergency care, surgery…).VP-based applications engage learners in repetitive clinical practice through interaction, in a safe virtual environment, with a character presenting symptoms of a specific illness and provide them with expert feedback.VPs allow students to get the necessary exposure to a range of clinical scenarios, compensating for their lack of field training and can ease learning of operational skills.However, such tools have rarely been used for dementia education.To fill this gap, VirtuAlz aims at developing a VP simulation tool to train healthcare professionals in social skills and management techniques required to work effectively with patients with dementia.Our goal is to present high-fidelity simulations of complex and dynamic critical care scenarios involving VPs who display cognitive and psycho-behavioral dementia symptoms (memory loss, poor judgment, apathy, agitation).VirtuAlz will support learning of clinical reasoning and interaction skills using progressive difficulty and clinical variation and provide learners with immediate and detailed personalized feedback.Learning outcomes will be assessed using learners’ choices and behavior as the clinical case unfolds in a branch-narrative scenario. Real-time automated interpretation of learner’s nonverbal behavior will complete feedback reports using advanced sensing/feedback architectures (prosody analysis, speech rate, facial expression, posture).VirtuAlz program includes 1)Coordination & management, 2)Definition of pedagogic framework:training needs, instructional design and curricular integration, 3)Construction of social skills sensing and feedback architecture, 4)Development of computational models of behavioral and clinical features of patients using real-life cases and field observations 5)Design and iterative development of the VirtuAlz tool including behavioral modeling of patients with dementia and non-verbal behavior analysis, 6)Iterative and multidimensional pilot assessments, and 7)Exploitation and dissemination.This project will contribute to knowledge and innovation in many ways:1)Breakthrough technical solutions for multimodal detection and analysis of user’s non-verbal behavior and its use for real-time and summary feedback will be developed and assessed; 2)Pedagogic models of dynamic learning will be adapted to the conception of realistic and complex non-deterministic VP narratives, setting VirtuAlz apart from the linear VP plots used in current tools; 3)Innovative organizational and educational strategies for the use of VPs in medical and paramedical education will be developed, and 4)VirtuAlz addresses education needs of dementia care professionals whereas most research projects in this area focus on patients and families’ needs.VirtuAlz brings together major academic and industrial partners with complementary skills in: multimodal interaction and social signal treatment (ISIR, UPCM), Computer Science for Cognition Perception and Use (LIMSI), computer simulation design (Interaction Healthcare), education sciences and simulation techniques (CIREL, U.Lille), and dementia diagnosis, treatment and healthcare professional education (Broca hospital, AP-HP, Coord).

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LIMSI Laboratoire d'Informatique pour la Mécanique et les Sciences de l'Ingénieur
Interaction Healthcare GROUPE INTERACTION
ISIR ISIR Institut des Systèmes Intelligents et Robotiques
UNIV-LILLE1 Centre Inter-universitaire de Recherche en Education de Lille

Help of the ANR 710,693 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 36 Months

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