We introduce an enactive patient (EP), a hyper-real virtual avatar developed for medical education.
EP includes facial close-ups of avatar characters and audio scenarios of challenging medical cases, such as breaking bad news and emergency situations. The medical student sits face-to-face with a screen-based virtual patient, which responds to the student’s biofeedback in real time. In scenarios the student hears herself talking as a junior doctor and is connected to the avatar with sensors and camera feedback. The avatar’s face reflects this input, forming a mirror-like loop between the student’s facial expression and other biofeedback data. The developed audio scenarios will represent the non-linear and polyphonic characteristics of actual medical practice, balancing between professional desensitization and maintenance of necessary emphatic capacities. They stimulate the students’ imagination and tolerance for silence and ambiguity when facing the patient.
Unlike the current virtual patient simulators, EP emphasizes the emerging nature of the doctor-patient interactions, challenging the student being present and aware of her non-verbal expression and bodily reactions.
EP integrates inventively two unique artistic research lines: the enactive cinema by Pia Tikka and arts-based medical education by Kaisu Koski. EP will be developed and tested in collaboration with several medical schools.