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Tufts University School of Medicine is a member of the Medbiquitous Virtual Patient Working Group, collaborating with other members to develop a standard for virtual patients. Authors of virtual patients need tools that adhere to a standard so that virtual patient simulations can be shared between institutions and countries.

Through a grant from the Hewlett Foundation, Tufts University Sciences Knowledgebase (TUSK) is building a tool that meets the Medbiquitous Virtual Patient Specification - to play simulations from other institutions as well as those from Tufts University. As the standard is still in flux, our Virtual Patient Simulator is not yet complete. The images below are from a beta version developed in 2007. Tufts will extract fifteen virtual patients from TUSK and place them on Tufts University's OpenCourseWare website, http://ocw.tufts.edu, when the simulator is complete.

The Virtual Patient Simulator is an Open Educational Resource being developed as an open-source application written in JavaScript. As an open-source project, the simulator's functions can be extended by additions from the community; it is our hope that modifications will be made within the XML standard.

Example of Chief Complaint page from TUSK Virtual Patient Case Player.
Figure 1: Example of Chief Complaint page from TUSK Virtual Patient Case Player.

The Virtual Patient Simulator will be available via download in the form of a zip file. This package will include the simulator, the XML data for a particular simulation, and any media used by that simulation. Once downloaded, the simulator will play the simulation without need of a web browser or access to the internet - as a Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) compliant content package, or a learning object within a SCORM Learning Management System.

Example of Chief Complaint page from TUSK Virtual Patient Case Player.
Figure 2: Example of Chief Complaint page from TUSK Virtual Patient Case Player.

The goal of using self-contained downloadable zip file packages is to facilitate sharing; this allows other systems built to the Medbiquitous standard to import the simulations and alter them to meet local needs. The Virtual Patient Simulator will provide a rich learning experience without the need for internet connectivity - after downloading the simulator once, users will be able to play any simulation packaged to the Medbiquitous Virtual Patient Specification.