Surgeons trained on virtual patients

Medics now need a screenside manner, says Roger Dobson

Doctors once encouraged to develop a bedside manner will soon have to hone a screenside one. Britain's 25,000 consultants are being provided with virtual patients via the Internet so they can brush up on the latest surgery techniques, help colleagues with tricky cases and make virtual diagnoses.

They will also be able to use the virtual patients to solve clinical challenges set them by academics, using downloaded X-rays, reports, and clinical histories to reach a virtual diagnosis.

Bupa set up the Internet site last week - the first of its kind - as a new service for both physicians and surgeons. Doctors say it is particularly useful for senior members of staff who are under pressure and are rarely able to meet people outside their hospital.

"It is a new way of helping busy doctors to continue their medical education and we are using senior academics to pose questions and challenges. Typically, they will be anonymised real cases that the academics have had problems with," said Bupa's assistant medical director, Dr David Costain. "It is a way of finding things out and not exposing your ignorance."

There are also "rooms" on the site where doctors can meet and discuss problems. Consultants, who are expected to use the site in the early morning and evenings, will get access to their colleagues' approaches to the problems set as well as a recommended approach.

On the site too, says Dr Costain, will be the latest research and medical news: "News will give doctors early warning of, for example, GP surgeries filling up with people with symptoms of something that happened to a character in EastEnders," he said.

The site could eventually be connected to other sites as they develop around the world allowing almost instant access to international expertise. Its launch comes amid a big expansion in experimental telemedicine projects where real patients are being diagnosed using video images sent down telephone lines to distant specialists.

A number of telemedicine projects have been tried in the UK, ranging from a telepsychiatry service for people on the Aran Islands to the diagnosis of patients in Greece by an ophthalmologist in the West Country. The latest country to set up an Internet facility is the republic of Azerbaijan.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms