Virtual patients: Virtuality and virtualization in health care

Bonnie Kaplan, Peter L. Elkin, Paul N. Gorman, Ross Koppel, Frank Sites, Jan Talmon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


In medical education and clinical care, representations of the patient help health care teams in planning and coordinating patient care, sometimes over geographic distances. This takes forms ranging from telemedicine consultations to using simulations and information and communication technology representations to plan, and at times, perform clinical procedures such as are done in intensive care units or in surgery. The increasing reliance on computer-mediated interaction in health care generally is considered the means to more efficient, equitable, and cost-effective care with reduced errors. Clinical work, then, may be carried out with simulated images and processes rather than through such physical processes as examining the patient directly. Instead of treating the actual person, one result may be that clinicians are treating computer-mediated representations of that person. This session explores virtuality in health care environments, with a particular focus on the virtual patient. Panelists discuss treating representations of patients by addressing how: (1) usability studies reveal the extent to which physicians may pay more attention to representations of the patient condition rather than to the actual patient, (2) images may be considered as more real than the patient, (3) different graphic representations of patient data have different consequences, and (4) virtuality affects quality of care in virtual intensive care units. From different research and theoretical perspectives and studies in these different environments with different technologies, panelists discuss repercussions of virtuality on teamwork and service delivery in health care. Their presentations of developments leading towards virtual patients point towards significant issues of virtuality in other environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationVirtuality and Virtualization
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the International Federation of Information Processing Working Groups 8.2 on Information Systems and Organizations and 9.5 on Virtuality and Society
EditorsKevin Crowston, Sandra Sieber, Eleanor Wynn
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2007

Publication series

NameIFIP International Federation for Information Processing
ISSN (Print)1571-5736

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems and Management


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