COLUMBUS (WCMH) – In this pandemic, we’re learning remote learning has been a challenge for many students throughout the country.

Ohio State University is working to tackle this issue by providing more interactive training while in the comfort of your own home or screen.

One OSU professor and his business partner developed an artificial intelligence about 4 years ago to help students meet with virtual “patients” online. In light of the pandemic, they’ve learned this software is now more important than ever for a few reasons.

“For almost all of last year they were not physically present at the college of medicine They were learning remotely,” said Douglas Danforth, Professor at OSU.

The same went for their medical patients, they just couldn’t get access inside which made learning and teaching difficult.

“None of our standardized were allowed to come into the medical center so our students

couldn’t practice any of their history-taking skills,” said Danforth.

His business partner Kellen Maicher says the “patient” can be put in different scenarios. They can be coming in for a cold, flu, allergies, or more serious issues like cancer symptoms.

“It’s very difficult to have certain conversations with patients with serious illnesses. We’re talking about cancer, there are no light conversations. It can be difficult to train staff on what to say, what not to say, and how to say it,” said Kellen Maicher, Learning and Development Specialist.

The best part of this technology, you can use it on your phone, laptop, and iPad. It gives students the opportunity to learn anywhere they are. Danforth says it also gives students a chance to see how they performed during their intake.

“It tells them which questions they asked in each category and which ones they missed,” said Danforth.

One other neat thing, it can also serve as a tool to reach those individuals who may not be fluent in English.

“Last year we created a virtual patient who had limited English proficiency. The goal was to help healthcare providers learn the unique aspects of gathering information from someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language” said Danforth.

Right now, they are working to create a new virtual patient, “The serious illness conversation patient.”

To further address topics like cancer, as mentioned.

“We’ve designed and been developing Sherly Johnson. She is 76 years old, mother of 3, and diagnosed with breast cancer that spread to her lungs and her treatments aren’t working. She wants to know what are her options? She’s considering discontinuing her treatment but her family doesn’t want to and is considering staff member to put in advice–that’s a very difficult conversation to have. It takes us to the next level, we need to have emotional patients who can share emotions,” said Kellen Maicher.

To learn more about how to get involved in this learning you can contact Professor Douglas Danforth directly or visit their site.