SimPHARM — software developed at the University of Otago that uses mathematical models of the physiology of body systems to simulate real life reactions to diseases and drugs — has broken into international markets.
It has been licensed by a US company, Education Management Solutions (EMS), which is responsible for marketing and sales of SimPHARM worldwide. The software has its US launch this week at an American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) event in Chicago.
The university says this a significant milestone for Professor Stephen Duffull of Otago’s School of Pharmacy who has been developing SimPHARM since 2007. It has been brought to market by the university’s development and commercialisation company Otago Innovation.
SimPHARM is a web-based program that can be accessed on tablets, laptops or personal computers. Cases (virtual patients) are chosen to suit each student’s stage of learning, and range from very simple medical ailments through to more intricate and complex cases that reflect the complexity of pharmacy practice.
The university says it is as an ideal training solution for both undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacy education programs.
“Virtual patients are chosen to suit each student’s stage of learning, and range from very simple medical ailments through to more intricate and complex cases that reflect the complexity of pharmacy practice,” it says.
“Because SimPHARM operates on a dynamic learning algorithm, every student who runs a [virtual patient] will experience it differently.
“Early results from the School of Pharmacy students at the University of Otago have shown excellent engagement when using SimPHARM in a flipped class where students are assigned a virtual patient to treat before attending class – similar to (but more exciting than) pre-reading requirements.”
Duffull said more than 95 percent of students were engaging with virtual patients from SimPHARM prior to training in class.
“That is a great result and means the vast majority of our students are coming well-prepared with knowledge and skills that reflect their developing decision-making skills.,” he said.
“These are skills that they have learnt from SimPHARM that closely emulate what they will eventually experience in the real world.”
Duffull said planned development of SimPHARM included adding the ability for it to support collaboration: students of medicine working on a case alongside a student of pharmacy, and adapting it for other disciplines.