How to Use Real Patient Case Videos with Standardized Patients

Many healthcare education programs use standardized patients, some prefer real patient videos. But what if a program wanted to do both? We have some ideas on how to make these two tools work together.

Standardized patients were first introduced into medical education in the 1960’s to give students a chance to practice on live patients.  Back then, the vast majority of medical schools wouldn’t let med students into the clinic until year three; the thought being that they weren’t ready to start seeing patients until they had mastered the basic sciences.  Standardized patients were a way to bridge the gap in people skills, a gap that wasn’t helped by the curricula of the day.

Many programs still use standardized patients.  Some have a rotating cast of 150 professional actors.  Other programs have more modest budgets, using community members, students, or staff to fill in.

At ReelDx, we think our real patient video cases can help bridge the gap between what students learn in the classroom and applying it in the clinic.  Specifically, students can practice specific thought processes on real video cases, such as differential diagnosis, vital signs interpretation, or taking a SOAP note.  While students won’t develop much by way of people skills, they can observe the ways that professionals exhibit those skills.

But what if a program wanted to do both?  How might real patient video cases supplement the standardized patients?

A few considerations:

  1. Ready-made cases - Real patient video cases can form the basis for the standardized patient cases.  Programs with both don’t have to invent the vital signs, tests, conditions, and diagnosis, since they’re already included with the real video case.
  2. Real-life actor training - Standardized patients can attempt to emulate the patients in the videos.  Rather than guess what the person is going through or might say in the situation, simulated patients can use the videos for their acting muse.  And sure, maybe professional actors will be fine either way, but amateurs can use all the help they can get.
  3. Child labor laws - It’s pretty hard to get simulated patients for children, since doing so would be tricky with child labor laws (to say nothing of the acting skills of a typical 9-year-old).  Real patient video cases help overcome this obstacle by providing exposure to real children in those videos.

Most cutting edge programs are combining both old and new; pre-COVID, in-person, synchronous tools (e.g. standardized patients) with the new learning tools that students have to come to expect, such as video-based cases. So, would you like to try real patient video cases with your students? Contact us for a free trial.

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Rob Humbracht