20 July 2018

Digital tool Prepdoc under development

Senior citizens practice doctor visits online

Prepdoc: empowering elderly people in conversations with healthcare professionals

As people age, they increasingly find it difficult to describe their health problems during a doctor’s visit. That makes it harder for the doctor to arrive at the correct diagnosis, which could lead to medical mistakes and a lack of trust between the doctor and the patient. With the online application Prepdoc, older patients can practice for the doctor’s visit on their computer or tablet, in order to be better prepared when they see a real doctor. The preliminary version of the tool will be presented in December 2018.

Before a doctor’s visit, elderly patients receive a brief training session on how to use Prepdoc, which includes talking with a virtual character. The practice helps them provide a better description of their situation during the actual consultation, which helps them build trust in their care provider. In so doing, Prepdoc contributes to better decisions regarding the desired care and treatment.

Good communication improves therapy adherence and reduces the number of hospital readmissions.
Johan Jeuring
Johan Jeuring
Professor of Software technology for learning and teaching

Therapy adherence

Research leader Johan Jeuring from Utrecht University explains: “Good communication is vital for well-being and good health care. It improves therapy adherence and reduces the number of hospital readmissions.” Prepdoc is the first tool of its kind, says Jeuring. “During their training, doctors and chemists learn how to communicate with patients. Prepdoc’s goal is to train patients how to communicate with heath care professionals.”

Digital training

Elderly patients especially could benefit from practicing conversations with health care professionals. In the Netherlands, 90% of senior citizens use computers, which means that a growing number of people are familiar with digital devices. That means it is increasingly feasible to use digital training tools to help elderly people deal with medical consultations.

Virtual Patient

Prepdoc builds on the success of the Virtual Patient, a digital tool that health care professionals can use to train their patient skills. The Virtual Patient project’s results include the start-up DialogueTrainer, which is also a partner in the Prepdoc project. The University of Edinburgh has joined project leader Utrecht University as part of the collaborative effort, with financing from the European research organisation EIT Digital.