AI Tech Firm Virti to Help Doctors Be More Empathetic

Startup company Virti developed artificial intelligence that creates “virtual patients” for doctors to help them train their interpersonal skills, especially during the pandemic, reported The Washington Post.

Alex Young, an orthopedic surgeon in Bristol, England, strived to address communication issues that make doctors seem unempathetic to patients. According to studies, patients find this lack of bedside manners a primary issue.

“Complaints can happen anywhere, but in health care, they’re amplified tenfold because you’re doing things like breaking bad news or explaining a diagnosis to a  patient who may not have medical understanding, said Young.”

Virti to Help Doctors Be More Empathetic

Young’s startup lets doctors in Europe and the United States hone their people skills by providing virtual patients. He added, “What we wanted to do with the virtual patient was created a scalable, data-driven way for people to practice their soft skills and communication.”

The developers used cloud technology to train the AI. It also utilized speech recognition and computer-generated characters to simulate realistic interactions with patients. The system is equipped to generate relevant answers when asked about symptoms.

Hospitals can customize the appearance of fake patients. The company incorporated customization options such as sex, gender, skin color, age, and height. The Ai is also designed to detect implicit bias.

Moreover, it allows physicians to ask more questions and the system will analyze its tone, quality of the answer, and cadence. The virtual patients are animated and AI-powered systems that can be operated on a smartphone or a computer.

Aside from these options, Virti can also provide virtual reality headsets for more immersive training. After the session, doctors are given scores depending on their performance. The system considers speed, quality of questions they asked, and diagnoses.

Several facilities in the US have already adopted this training method including the Health Education Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

In fact, Cedars-Sinai transitioned from being a customer to an investor in 2019. The facility has raised $2 million in a seed round led by the clinic. This fund was used to assemble a sales team, as well as to create analytics software.

However, Cedars-Sinai has been using Virti’s technology to train their medics on coronavirus-related procedures.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post report noted that while the AI offers relevant responses, human patients sometimes lie about their symptoms, which can hinder the provision of accurate care and diagnosis.