Personalised Care Institute launches VR training for shared decision making
The Personalised Care Institute (PCI) has recently launched virtual reality training on shared decision-making (SDM) to help healthcare professionals fill gaps in their knowledge, which they have reported. This training, commissioned by NHS England, aims to explore key micro-skills around shared decision-making, including agenda setting, teach-back, exploring patient preferences, and reaching a shared decision. By practising these skills in a risk-free virtual environment, healthcare staff can improve and develop their skills for the benefit of their patients.
Shared decision-making has been shown to result in better patient outcomes, with increased adherence to treatment, fewer repeat appointments, and fewer regrets about decisions made over their health and care. However, 46% of healthcare professionals report gaps in their knowledge on the topic, according to The Patient Association, and 70% of them want to learn more.
The Personalised Care Institute developed a free, quality-assured eLearning tool called Virtual Patient Simulation: Test Your Personalised Care Conversations in conjunction with Keele University. This tool allows users to put their shared decision-making skills to the test through a series of life-like simulated patient consultations. It uses multiple-choice questions to provide a structured interaction with an on-screen animated patient character. Comprehensive feedback is delivered at the end of each exercise, allowing users to put what they’re learning to the test with repeated use.
Dr Emma Hyde, the clinical director of PCI, said that although research suggests only one in three healthcare professionals always practise shared decision-making fully, the perceived common barriers include lack of experience, confidence, and time. She believes that these could be quickly overcome with the opportunity to practise. “Not only will this training equip health and care professionals with the shared decision-making skills and knowledge needed to deliver the very best health outcomes for patients, but it will also address the growing desire among the general public for greater involvement in key decisions that inform their healthcare,” she added.
The use of simulations can help to encourage greater engagement and facilitate repetitive practice, and at the same time allows users to work at their own pace. Dr Priti Kadoo, a GP in frailty medicine and an ambassador for the PCI, said that the VR training helps professionals reflect on current practice and really think about personalised care and striking the right balance between imparting clinical information and considering how the patient feels and is likely to respond to what they tell or ask them.
The first scenarios launched are an in-person consultation based on an osteoarthritis discussion and a remote consultation by telephone with a father concerning his son’s sore throat. Two further scenarios – a referral for suspected bowel cancer and a discussion around the ongoing use of antidepressants – are due to be launched in the coming months.
The use of virtual reality to train healthcare professionals is becoming more widespread. Last year, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust introduced new virtual reality films for dementia education. The aim of the VR films was to help healthcare professionals gain a better understanding of the challenges patients living with dementia face when on a busy inpatient ward.