August 2, 2023By Teresa Gore

SimConverse Utilizes AI to Improve Clinical Communication Skills Training

SimConverse has developed an online generative artificial intelligence (AI) platform to improve healthcare professionals’ communication skills through virtual simulation experiences. Communication is at the foundation of every healthcare interaction with patients, their families, and healthcare colleagues. Better communication can reduce healthcare errors and prevent patient injuries. Some estimate that 80% of all serious healthcare errors are a direct result of poor communication. SimConverse offers a solution to the communication problem, with an ever-growing library of over 1000 AI characters with whom healthcare learners can practise their communication skills. This article will explore how SimConverse addresses the need for healthcare professionals to improve their communication to decrease healthcare errors and improve quality of care.

What is Generative AI?

There are two types of conversational artificial intelligence; classification and generative. Traditional or Classification AI refers to systems designed to respond to a narrow set of inputs. Classification AI essentially classifies an Answer to every Question it is asked based solely on the dataset it’s been shown before. What this means is it cannot handle questions or deliver answers it hasn’t been explicitly trained on in the past. This fundamentally limits it to menu-based or other low fidelity conversations.

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Generative AI on the other hand is able generate a response to you based on it’s understanding of the language in which it’s conversing. The issue with publicly available Generative AI models like GPT is they uncontrollably hallucinate information and can therefore not be used to deliver consistent or safe communication training. They were trained to be generalised and therefore remain generalised.

However, when Generative AI models are built and designed for purpose there performance is able to be carefully controlled and tailored to suit a use-case. For communication skills training this requires a suite of expertly designed AI models for both playing the role of a person in complex dialogue based communication, but also for providing comprehensive personalised feedback and assessment.

As the experts in the space, SimConverse provides large-scale, accessible and high-quality communication skills training the entire healthcare workforce by leveraging their suite of purpose-built Generative AI models.

SimConverse’s Pedagogy

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SimConverse excels in the enhancement of healthcare learners’ verbal communication capabilities through high fidelity, simulated conversation experiences. The deliberate focus on the core skill of verbal communication is a vital principle of the generative AI platform that enables a more purposefull and long-lasting improvement in the overall communication skills of the learner. In the past, more focus has been placed on technical skills development, rather than cognitive skills, such as communication. Communication skills are critical to provide high-quality healthcare and deserve equal attention and practice. Healthcare simulation remains the most effective and resource-efficient method to train communication and technical skills.

SimConverse provides educators worldwide with a much-needed staging approach to bridge the gap between theoretical learning and real patient interactions through its deliberate focus on the transferable skill of verbal communication. SimConverse is designed for integration into academic curricula and continuing education in the clinical practice environment through stage-based and scaffolded learning.

Stage-Based Learning

SimConverse incorporates stage-based learning in the generative AI platform for simulation-based learning. Stage-based learning of communication skills involves three steps: didactic theory, communication skill mastery, and integration of skills. The didactic component consists of the theory and lecture material as a base for learning. The communication component skills include verbal, paraverbal, and nonverbal communication components. These components provide a holistic aspect of communication: what is stated, how it is stated, and the body language used in the communication process. The integration component allows the learner to practise all elements for mastery learning.

Stage-based learning enhances the learners’ confidence and overall communication ability. Through disentanglement of the core components of communication, learners can better identify transferable skills to focus on to improve their overall performance. Once the components are transferred into a situation where all communication skills are integrated, learners showed improved confidence and competence.

Scaffolded Learning

Another pedagogical theory used by SimConverse in communication simulation is scaffolded learning. Scaffolded learning provides a variety of types of learning activities to allow learners to work through increasingly complex tasks with paradoxical support for learning. Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding is the difference between what a learner can do independently and what requires external facilitation to learn. SimConverse will provide more support and scenarios to learn at the procedural level and then allow them to progress to metacognition through self-reflection and feedback from their interactions with AI patients. Types of scaffolding:

  • Procedural scaffolding – helps students use the tools available to assist with learning.
  • Conceptual scaffolding – assists students to determine what to consider in learning to guide them to prioritise fundamental concepts.
  • Strategic scaffolding suggests alternative ways for students to tackle their learning problems.
  • Metacognitive scaffolding – guides students in the thinking process and helps them self-assess during learning.

Large-Scale and Scalable Implementation

SimConverse delivers communication skills training through patient, colleague, or family member role-playing scenarios. The SimConverse generative AI platform uniquely allows learners to train with realistic conversations of any complexity while receiving objective grading and personalised feedback. The online platforms allows learners to practice in an asynchronous learning environment with individualised feedback. The virtual format increases the applications of the platform in a variety of situations. The technology is flexible, mapping to any curriculum across all healthcare disciplines, and is used globally by organisations training large cohorts with complex training needs. SimConverse allows the learner to engage with realistic practice with specific and detailed AI powered grading and feedback.SimConverses allows repeated practise with different characters to apply communication skills in varied environments and contexts.

SimConverse’s holistic approach to the learning process enables learners to fully develop their competency in communication skills and maximise their capabilities before real patient interaction. Evidence-based, learner-focused experiences allow educators worldwide to harness and improve the healthcare professional’s communication skills.

View the LEARN CE/CME Platform Webinar Leverage AI for Large Scale Healthcare Communication Skills Training to learn more!

More About SimConverse

SimConverse was founded in 2020 by CEO Aiden Roberts and COO Will Pamment. The founders conceptualised the company while studying medicine, when they realised that healthcare curricula lack emphasis on communication skills and instead focused on procedural and clinical skills only. Given that the majority of medical errors come from ineffective communication, the duo knew they were uniquely able to tackle this problem. Coupling Aiden’s decade worth of experience in AI and Will’s ongoing research into clinical education theory, SimConverse was born.

By incorporating stage-based learning theory into communication skills training, SimConverse allows learners to practise one of the most difficult aspects of a patient encounter. Specifically, SimConverse was designed to operate within a simulated environment that is safe, repeatable, reflective, and customizable. SimConverse’s scenarios can be accessed from any device, by any learner, from any location. The AI language model that SimConverse has developed is adaptable to any level of clinical learner and can portray any patient, colleague, or simulated participant role that a scenario requires.

Learn More About SimConverse!

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