Virtual technology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, is allowing nurses to interact as avatars with each other and with patients using the website Second Life.
Vanderbilt was given $1.6 million by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create and launch the project through the agency’s Nurse Education Technologies program, reports The Tennessean. Right now, the project is only a pilot while the university conducts research.
In the Second Life program, Vanderbilt University was built on its own island, with a nursing home, residential trailer, and outpatient clinic that duplicates the Eskind Diabetes Center in Nashville. Hospital plans and photos were loaded into the program to create an exact copy of the real-life facility.
Nurses who experienced the pilot program thought it worked out well. Patient visits were easy because patients were given a questionnaire to fill out in advance so that nurses had a head start on the prep work for their virtual visit.
According to Vanderbilt, the university plans to use the Second Life program as a teaching tool with the nurses. It may eventually expand the program in such ways as communicating with patients in remote locations, giving patients with mobility or transportation issues the opportunity to receive a consultation from a physician without leaving their home. Telephone and teleconferencing can be used to communicate between the Second Life avatars and patient records could also be accessed through the program.
As a nurse, how could this virtual program help or hinder you? Let us know in our comment section.