Game/educational tool could save lives, UF students say

Courtesy photo from UF Health

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A team of University of Florida computer science graduate students and a College of Medicine task force used virtual reality to address a potential problem in patient care.

If a patient’s condition rapidly deteriorates while in a hospital or acute care clinical setting, care providers will access a “crash cart” that contains medicine and tools needed to save a life.

However, these carts are locked down until they are needed, meaning health care providers cannot familiarize themselves with the carts otherwise. This unfamiliarity can lead to delays in care as providers search for items as they are needed, according to UF Health.

But now, the UF team has developed a virtual reality crash cart for pediatric units to help staff familiarize themselves with crash carts, UF Health said. The program is part game, part educational tool.

The team consisted of four UF Health team members and four computer science graduate students.

  • Erik Black, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in pediatrics and educational technology
  • Nicole Paradise Black, M.D., M.Ed.
  • Jennifer Munoz-Pareja, M.D.
  • Hillary Rohrs, ARNP
  • Mohit Gupta
  • Jinansh Patel
  • Anurag Singh
  • Deepanshu Tyagi

With a virtual reality headset and joystick, the user takes on the role of an emergency medical professional. Once the session begins, the user must locate specific items in the cart. The user must open the drawers of the cart using the joystick in each hand, pick up the correct item and hand it to a virtual medical professional. The timer runs until all items have been found.

The team worked for about eight weeks to develop the initial framework for the virtual reality carts, UF Health said.

Now, Erik Black will be showing the program to other health care providers to get feedback. He will then develop a list of improvements to give to the next group of students who will work on the program.