In the spring of 2021 semester, students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Nursing will get first-hand experience by testing a new virtual healthcare app designed by a team of faculty and students from across campus.
Lisa Merritt, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, and her collaborative team at UT — Xueping Li, Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Tickle College of Engineering; Cary Staples, professor of design at the College of Architecture and Design; and Paul Hauptman, professor and dean of the Graduate School of Medicine, designed a mobile app to simulate a virtual healthcare encounter.
This V-Visit Sim multiplatform application is an educational application developed for healthcare educators that reproduces a virtual visit between a provider and a patient.
Virtual visits, on the rise due to COVID-19, are encounters that occur between a patient and a healthcare provider without being in the same room. Patients receive care for their health problems at home by video, phone, text or video chat.
“The Centers for Disease Control has recommended that healthcare providers explore alternatives to face-to-face visits with the goal of reducing unnecessary visits and preventing transmission of COVID-19,” Merritt said. “Virtual visits can advance these efforts and have great potential to improve the patient experience, improve health outcomes, and control health care costs.”
Currently in its beta version, the V-Visit Sim app offers learners the opportunity to improve their clinical reasoning skills by being exposed to 35 clinical scenarios in an asynchronous online environment.
“Simulation is used in healthcare education to give learners the opportunity to practice their skills without putting patients at risk,” Merritt said. “The pandemic has accelerated the need for virtual tours, and the development of this virtual simulation application provides participants with a simulated experience to take a virtual tour. “
The app can be used on a computer, tablet or smartphone and has been developed for student nurse practitioners, medical students, medical assistant students, and others working to become advanced practice providers.
“Research shows that students have a positive perception of mobile learning and believe that using their mobile device for education enhances their learning,” continued Merritt. “It makes learning more portable and accessible. “
The project is funded by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. Merritt and his team used a portion of the funds to work with students at UT’s School of Design to improve the readability and usability of the app.
“These students have done a fabulous job making the app more eye-catching and user-friendly,” Merritt said. “This collaboration allowed students to work with professors from other colleges and enhanced their learning experience.
Allie Torres-Lopez, a junior from the College of Architecture and Design, worked as a designer student on the app.
“When the opportunity first presented itself, the project was to create video tutorials for this platform. However, this project has grown more than we ever thought possible in such a short time, ”said Torres-Lopez. “I truly believe that the V-Visit Sim app will become a useful resource for the future of healthcare education.”
Merritt will use the new College of Nursing app during the spring semester to provide a virtual visit experience for student nurse practitioners in family, pediatrics and mental health.
“The goal is for learners to collect appropriate information from history and virtual physical examination via chat messages, images and videos and develop a correct diagnostic and management plan,” said Merritt.
View an overview of the V-Visit Sim app.
Heather Peters (865-974-8674, [email protected])
Diane Carr Tolhurst (865-974-7603, [email protected])