Can Virtual Humans Teach Empathy?

  • Benjamin LokEmail author
  • Adriana E. Foster


Millennial and generation X learners seek and accept technology-based teaching. In healthcare, such technology includes virtual standardized patients. Virtual human technology was created and tested to teach communication skills, including empathy, in patient encounters. With the help of learners as content experts (dental, medical, speech pathology, and pharmacy students and faculty), our team developed virtual standardized patient scenarios related to neurology, surgery, mental health, and other medical specialties, to offer practice opportunities for history taking, critical thinking, and empathic communication. We will describe the virtual human technology, including its properties suited to provide immediate empathy feedback in real time, to teach and reinforce empathic communication longitudinally, and to reach a large number of learners who can practice and reinforce the skill repetitively and cost effectively.


Artificial intelligence Deliberate practice Empathy Empathic opportunity Empathic Communication Coding System Multimedia Standardized patient Virtual patient Virtual standardized patient 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering DepartmentCollege of Engineering, University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral HealthHerbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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