As pandemic keeps students at home, Israeli startup keeps training doctors

‘While for many students the current semester has been lost, our students have been able to continue learning as before,’ said Chief Executive Officer of Virtual Patient

Close up of female doctor holding syringe with injection (iilustrative) (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Close up of female doctor holding syringe with injection (iilustrative)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
The coronavirus pandemic has forced universities all over the world to switch to remote learning, causing many disruptions, especially to laboratories and practical courses. However, medical students training with the platform created by Haifa-based company Virtual Patient have been continuing to train and examine computer-generated patients as they always did, as the company’s Chief Executive Officer Adam Baruch told The Jerusalem Post.
The Virtual Patient platform/ Courtesy The Virtual Patient platform/ Courtesy
“Our software is Internet-based and can therefore be accessed from anywhere,” he explained. “The platform simulates patients, offers the students basic description of the symptoms and requires them to deal with the different stages of diagnosing and treating.”
To company was established about 10 years ago by Baruch, an IT expert, and Arie Oliven, professor at the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion in Haifa.
The system has been fully employed for years at the Technion, and is used at other schools in Israel as well. The company is also in conversation with several faculties of medicine around the world, including in the US, Canada and Poland.
The platform can be used for training, allowing students to look back at their mistakes and try again to address a specific patient, but also for examinations. Another advantage is that the results of the examinations are assessed by the machine, and therefore are provided in a completely objective way and are available immediately.
Baruch highlighted that the platform relies on a sophisticated level of artificial intelligence so that the situation is as close as possible to an interaction between a physician and a real person. For example, students are not presented with multiple choices to understand more about a patient’s symptoms, but instead have to ask real questions.
“We have been started working on remote learning many years ago and we are proud to see that this has proved to be an important direction,” the CEO said. “While for many students the current semester has been lost, our students have been able to continue learning as before.”
This has included learning how to deal with possible coronavirus patients, Baruch added, since the technology can simulate all sorts of medical cases.
“I believe we will see more and more COVID-19 cases in our platform in the near future,” he concluded.