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Zentrum für virtuelle Patienten
Medizinische Fakultät Heidelberg

Virtual Patients

Screenshot CAMPUS-Software

Virtual patients are an interactive, realistic, computer based simulation of patient care, with the goal of simulating real-life medical practice. Virtual patient cases can be used to begin the education into a medical speciality, as an indepth review, as continuing education, or as a testing modality.

CAMPUS system virtual patients are continually evaluated revised and improved by our centre. CAMPUS centre virtual patients are in use at Heidelberg University and many other German and international institutions.

Further information may be found under "CAMPUS-Software".

Reasons for the implementation of virtual patients:


  • Lack of appropriate real-life patients available for student teaching
    In a modern hospital, the length of stay per patient has been reduced to a minimum, and university hospitals contain a high percentage of critically ill patients. Fewer patients are available for bedside teaching and for direct student to patient contact. Even so, during many important seasonal illnesses, direct student-patient learning cannot be accomplished. Furthermore, only in very rare instances does a student have the opportunity to follow a patient from admittance, through all important diagnostic and treatment stepts, through to discharge, with the proper clinical oversight.

  • Lack of connection between preclinical and clinical information
    Virtual patient cases offer students in preclinical classes the opportunity to connect theoretical knowledge with practical examples, so that they can apply their knowledge in a clinical situation which resembles real-life clinical practice. The connection allows students to apply important theoretical concepts in a clinical context early on.
  • Lack of feedback
    When caring for real life patients, students often do not receive enough feedback about their performance. Virtual patients cases are programmed with feedback every step of the way, both during the case management decisions and after case completion, within the evaluation section. Case discussion allows further feedback opportunities.



Huwendiek et al. 2006, Irby 1995, Huang et al. 2007