Friday, May 22, 2015

Robotic Butt Offers Prostate Exam Training For Medical Students: How ‘Patrick’ Teaches Empathy, Proper Technique

Medical students, meet Patrick.

The latest in training technology, Patrick is a simulated patient that talks to medical students while offering real-time feedback about the virtual prostate exam he's receiving. While a perplexing site to behold — users actually check the mock prostate of a dummy's rear end — doctors have praised the technology for allowing students to familiarize themselves with intimate exams before they ever encounter a live patient.

Patrick serves a dual purpose: personal and professional. Personally, he comes equipped with software that enables him to interact emotionally with the student and voice any concerns he has about the procedure. Dr. Benjamin Lok, one of the program's designers, says the interpersonal relationship Patrick helps foster is invaluable from a practicing perspective. "This virtual human patient can talk to the learner, expresses fears and concerns about the prostate exam, and presents a realistic patient encounter," Lok told Geekosystem.

The other purpose he serves is functional. Patrick is endowed with force sensors, which can alert the student when he or she is being too aggressive, and can report how thorough the student was in his or her examination.

"Consider this," Lok said, "how would a medical student know if they are doing a good prostate exam? Currently it is impossible for the educator to gauge performance. This simulation provides performance, feedback, and an opportunity to learn and lower anxiety."

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