Virtual Heroes helps Duke University create interactive health care training programme

Research Triangle Park 03 March 2008Virtual Heroes Inc. (VHI), an expert in advanced learning technologies, has created 3DiTeams, an interactive health care team trainer designed to maximize team synchronization and skills proficiency to help reduce medical errors. The programme, designed in collaboration with faculty from Duke University Medical Center, was developed with funding from the United States Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, and is based on a health care team co-ordination curriculum called TeamSTEPPS, developed by the United States Department of Defense and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.


The goal of 3DiTeams is to emphasize learning-by-doing and provide training-to-proficiency in rare, complicated or otherwise error-prone tasks.

Virtual Heroes' cutting-edge Advanced Learning Technology platform provides a comprehensive after-action-review technology, photo-realistic art and effects and was incorporated into the training programme which allows distributed users to participate simultaneously from different computers across the Internet. The instructor can control and drive the virtual patient's vital signs dynamically during each scenario to further challenge students.

"Effective team co-ordination is critical for the safe delivery of health care. Development of these skills requires training and practice in an interactive team-based environment", stated Jeffrey Taekman, MD director of Human Simulation and Patient Safety at Duke Medical Center. "Virtual Heroes worked with us to create a high-fidelity, multi-user, real-world, hospital simulation in a video game setting that is based on real science."

3DiTeams was unveiled at an American Society of Anaesthesiologists conference, is used currently used to train residents and advanced practice nurses, and will be used to train Duke medical and nursing students in March. The capabilities of 3DiTeams will also be presented this spring as part of the programme during the fourth annual "Games for Health" Conference and the Advanced Learning Technology Summit.

3DiTeams is built using Epic's Unreal Engine 2.5. 3DiTeams will run on any network-connected personal computer and consists of three phases:

  • Independent Learning Phase - Individuals study teamwork and communication concepts on-line. Learners apply these concepts by watching and identifying important behaviours in video vignettes.
  • Collaboration/Team Co-ordination Phase - As many as 32 learners can enter a virtual world together. Team members can be in the same room or spread throughout the world. Team members, instructors, and non-participant observers can comment and rate the interactions.
  • Debrief/After Action Review - Video and voice recording of the Collaborative Phase using several channels is played back live or over the Internet. A facilitator-lead debrief allows the learners to review graded performance metrics, observe their behaviours, reflect on their actions, and discuss the positive and negative interactions.

"We are excited to use our instructional design expertise, HumanSim technology and creative talent to help Duke University create this interactive training game to be used for hospital professionals", stated Virtual Heroes founder and CEO Jerry Heneghan.

Founded in January 2004, and located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, Virtual Heroes Inc. (VHI), the "Advanced Learning Technology Company", creates collaborative interactive learning solutions (serious games) and virtual worlds for the federal systems, health care and commercial markets. Advanced Learning Technologies (ALT) leverage simulation learning and digital game-based learning paradigms to accelerate learning, increase proficiency and reduce costs.

Virtual Worlds facilitate training, education, collaboration, telepresence, and R&D across distributed teams using internet 2.0 technologies. As a global market leader in this field, VHI applications facilitate highly interactive, self-paced learning and instructor-led, distributed team training on the Virtual Heroes Advanced Learning Technology (A.L.T.) platform using the Unreal Engine 3 by Epic Games. In 2007, VHI was honoured by Military Training and Technology magazine as one of the industry's Top 100 companies for a third consecutive year. Virtual Heroes is expanding its experience and success in the defense sector into the health care market with the development of HumanSim, and into the commercial market with custom solutions.

Leslie Versweyveld

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