On Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 a panel session of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) was held simultaneously in rl and sl. The title of the session was “A Virtual World as a Healthcare Information Platform” and the participants included moderator DanielS Cisco Systems (rl Danny Sands from Cisco Systems), Pathfinder Linden (rl John Lester, Linden Lab), Cooksbranch Chowderhead (rl Daniel Hoch, Massachussetts General Hospital), Deep Semaphore (rl Rameshsharma Ramloll, Idaho State University), Lancelot Spitteler (rl James Kinross, Imperial College London) and Davee Commerce ( rl David Taylor, Imperial College London).
DanielS Cisco Systems began the session by introducing the panel members and giving an overview of the potential ways that Second Life can be used by those in the business, healthcare and social science fields. Cisco sponsored this panel discussion; the first of its kind (discussing virtual worlds in rl and sl simultaneously) at AMIA. Previously, Cisco was involved in another sl/rl presentation, this time at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) meetings of February, 2008, when the Virtual Palomar Hospital sim was introduced. (see http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-55637
Pathfinder Linden was the first panel member to speak. He is Linden Lab’s Boston Operations Director, having joined Linden Lab in 2005, bringing experience in online community building, healthcare and education to his position. He described virtual worlds and explained that the great challenge is to help people discover the potential uses of this new technology, especially in the areas mentioned.
Cooksbranch Chowderhead (rl Daniel Hoch) was the next to make a presentation. Hoch is a neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital who has been working on a study in which Second Life is used as an alternate way to provide healthcare delivery. A technique already taught in rl was chosen for the study, the Relaxation Response, a stress reduction therapy first described by Dr. Herbert Benson and designed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. The teaching of the Relaxation Response was adapted for Second Life and three groups of participants followed the eight week course. Two of the groups have recently completed the program and the results are being evaluated.
Following Cooksbranch Chowderhead , Deep Semaphore (rl Rameshsharma Ramloll of Idaho State University) showed a video of a simulation for emergency training (the title is “Exploring Emergency Preparedness Training in a Virtual Environment: Highlights from a Pandemic Influenza Triage Exercise”) that was done in Second Life. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1doVBFl9fs, also see http://play2train.org) The immersive quality of Second Life lends itself to doing this kind of work. As well the organization of these kinds of exercises, which involve large numbers of people working in different disciplines, can be easier than in rl.
The final speaker was Lancelot Spitteler (rl James Kinross) from Imperial College London. Imperial College London, along with the National Physical Laboratory, have created a virtual hospital in Second Life (the Second Health Hospital) in accordance with “Healthcare for London: A Framework for Action”. This hospital allows people to experience the recommendations set forth in “Healthcare for London: A Framework for Action” in a tangible way. Visitors also have the opportunity to leave comments that could be utilized in the creation of rl healthcare services in London. Imperial College London also has a training hospital in Second Life where students can learn to examine patients in a respiratory care unit.
James Kinross spoke about how Second Life can and has been used so far. He talked about both the illusion of interaction that can be felt in Second Life and that these interactions can be captured and analyzed. Kinross’s avatar Lancelot Spitteler actually got up out of his seat on the panel and entered into the audience area, greeting avatars who were seated there and hopefully demonstrating to the session participants in rl just how real the feeling in sl can be. Convincing people who have not been in Second Life of the intensity and reality of the experience is probably one of the most difficult things to do.
Finally Davee Commerce, also of Imperial College Hospital, took the audience on a tour of an operating room which had been set up to help students learn procedures, such as scrubbing up. It was an interesting experience because many of the objects in the room were set up to warn you if you were doing something wrong. For instance, I bumped into an object in the room, a cart, I think, and was told by the object that I had done so.
This AMIA panel discussion illustrated many different aspects of the use of Second Life. The actual presentation itself was made available to those who could not attend the meeting in person. Many different healthcare related uses were also demonstrated: teaching patients who might not be able to get to the hospital easily (demonstrated by the teaching of the Relaxation Response), training of large numbers of healthcare professionals and emergency responders to react to emergency situations ( the video shown by Ramesh Ramloll on the emergency response to the flu epidemic), the ability to help form healthcare policy (Second Health Hospital) and training of medical students (Imperial College London). The use of virtual worlds such as Second Life can help save healthcare systems time and money, something of great importance in this period of increasingly costly healthcare. for a description of a visit to the virtual hospital)
Imperial College London (149, 85, 26)
Second Health Hospital, Polyclinic (126, 219, 24)
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