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UT nursing students to get hands-on experience testing virtual health care app

Officials said that virtual visits with health care professionals are on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit: University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Aerial photographs taken of the University of Tennessee Knoxville from Tennessee National Guard helicopter on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Photo by Erik Campos

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Starting in spring semester 2021, students in the University of Tennessee College of Nursing will get experience in virtual health care.

Officials with UT said that they will use a new virtual health care app designed by a team of faculty and students, called the V-Visit Sim app. Lisa Merritt, Xueping Li, Cary Staples and Paul Haupton designed the app to simulate an encounter in virtual health care. They are all professors at UT.

Officials said that virtual health care training is important due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More patients are receiving care for health problems from home, they said. The Centers for Disease Control recommended that providers explore alternatives to in-person visits.

“Virtual visits can advance those efforts and have great potential to enhance patient experience, improve health outcomes, and control health care cost,” Merritt said.

The app is currently in its beta version, officials said. It will provide 35 clinical scenarios in an asynchronous online environment, giving students the chance to practice their skills without putting patients at risk.

It can be used on a computer, a tablet or a smartphone, officials said. The project was funded by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, and some of the funds were used to work with students in the School of Design to improve the usability of the app.

“The goal is for learners to collect appropriate information from the history and virtual physical exam via chat messages, images, and video and develop a correct diagnosis and management plan,” Merritt said. 

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