In the last couple of months, the COVID-19 pandemic has put great pressure on schools. Especially on clinical training programs in healthcare, where interaction with the patient is a crucial element of education. More than 2800 schools have suspended their onsite teaching due to coronavirus. As a medical education software company, InSimu decided to support medical and nursing schools. We have provided our virtual patient simulator software free of charge to help them continue clinical education remotely. 

The Challenges of Distance Medical Education

There are tremendous ways of how theoretical lectures can be delivered in remote education. Traditional materials such as books, slideshows, videos, can be made available via existing digital platforms. However, the interactive part of education is challenging to replicate virtually

The biggest question is how to provide case presentations and practical skill training AND remote assessment of clinical skills when students are not allowed to interact with real patients.

Various approaches to implement virtual patients in remote clinical teaching methods

The way how schools have implemented virtual patients in their education varies depending on the strategy of the faculty.

  • With virtual patients, they can guarantee the compulsory clinical practice when students cannot participate in clinical rotations. Students can complete the assignments of the virtual patients even while sitting at home.
  • They can provide extra, complimentary clinical practice opportunities in a safe virtual environment.
  • Students can participate in online sessions where their educators guide their case solving.
  • Virtual Patients also help assess students’ clinical reasoning skills in standardized online exams.

How have medical and nursing schools been using the e-learning platform?

Since the coronavirus outbreak started to affect schools, schools from 42 countries applied the 30 days of the free support package of the InSimu e-learning simulator platform. InSimu had designed this crisis support package to help the faculties continue their clinical teaching and assessment remotely.

The students practiced on more than 420,000 virtual patients. They have taken more than 6,100,0000 clinical decisions by ordering the relevant diagnostic tests.

Due to the detailed group analytics of the platform educators were able to track the activity of their students.

Professor Alain Verstraete, MD, Ghent University

“When InSimu offered a free one-month subscription to our medical students, we immediately accepted the offer. Although participation was optional for our students (we didn’t want to increase their burden in these unprecedented times), 106 master students started to solve cases (an average of 17 per student). Our students gave a perfect or nearly good diagnosis in 55% of the cases, and the patient ‘died’ in only 1.8% of the cases. In general, they ordered too many tests, something we also see in real life after they graduate. For lab tests in particular, they ordered more non-optimal tests than optimal tests.

This information is useful for further developing our curriculum, and we are very grateful to InSimu for this opportunity.”

“We found the InSimu app to be extremely useful. It was a central component of our virtual clinical experience.”

Professor Ben Taragin, MD
Medical School for International Health,
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

The 30-days free package is still available for the medical and nursing schools

The pandemic situation made educational institutions realize the importance of e-learning tools. Even if schools can return to normal practice, educators know they have to be prepared to be ready to provide clinical education for their students in a similar situation. It also ensures that their teaching and assessment methods are up-to-date.

Therefore our support package is still available. Faculty members can request that by contacting us at

In our next article, we will reveal the results of a survey about the stakeholders’ experience with remote clinical education.