Using Technology to Enhance Teaching in Physician-Patient Communication

Stacey Kaltman (Medicine) · Round 1

Ultimately, this project has opened up new avenues of teaching important communication skills to our students. We see multiple uses for this type of technology application in addition to teaching skills including assessment and remediation.

Stacey Kaltman

This project was designed to enhance first year medical student teaching in Physician Patient Communication (PPC) through the use of online patient interview simulations. PPC is a first year medical module that trains 200 medical students each year in communication skills required for students to develop into compassionate and effective physicians. Because of limitations in current traditional teaching approaches, additional strategies were needed to teach both basic and complex communication skills to large cohorts of medical students. In this ITEL project led by Project Investigator Stacey Kaltman, online simulations expand opportunities for increasing student exposures to different types of patients and clinical scenarios, better preparing them for their clinical practice. Kaltman and her team led a randomized controlled trial in which first year medical student volunteers were either given access to three simulations while preparing for their end-of-year Observed Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) or were only able to study using traditional methods.

There are three specific learning goals for the first three simulations developed in this project. Within the context of the interactive simulations, students: (1) use patient-centered interviewing skills to open an interview, (2) assess the patient's chief medical concern and history of present illness, and (3) respond to emotional content. Results from the 2014 study indicated that students given access to the simulations overwhelmingly chose to use them, and they generally reported that they were helpful in both improving their communication skills and preparing them for the OSCE. Following the successful first round of the study in 2014, the project's timeline was expanded and now includes the development of three new simulations to allow students to practice Motivational Interviewing in a high-fidelity simulated interview. Assessment of this project is ongoing.


Kaltman, Stacey, Yasmin Jilla, Susan Pennestri, Yianna Vovides, Eleri Syverson, Nicholas Talisman, and Paige Arthur. "Using Interactive Simulations to Enhance Teaching in Physician-Patient Communication." Presented at the Colloquium for GUMC Educators in the Health Professions, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, June 2, 2015.

In the News

The Prospect Issue 3: "ITEL Thematic Spotlight: Games & Simulations" (page 12)

The Prospect Issue 4: "ITEL Project Showcase" (page 5)

CNDLS Blog: "Kaltman ITEL Project Creates Simulations for Patient Communication"