Virtual Worlds in Healthcare

  • Prabal KhanalEmail author
  • Ashish Gupta
  • Marshall Smith
Part of the Annals of Information Systems book series (AOIS, volume 19)


A well-structured medical education system focusing on proper cognitive as well as psychomotor skills is the key to better health care. However, medical errors still remain one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The recent advancement of healthcare technologies along with various tools and techniques help with the information sharing and provide a better mechanism for learning. One such technology that is gaining popularity as a tool for delivering medical education and health care is virtual worlds. Virtual worlds (VWs) are based on web 2.0 technologies that enable users with internet connectivity to access the respective systems any time. This review paper presents various functions and applications of VWs in medical education and healthcare. This paper surveys various architectures of VWs that focus on medical education and identifies related training tasks that can be achieved using VWs.


Virtual worlds Medical training Healthcare Literature review 


  1. Anonymous P (2010) Option: fearless nation. [cited 2010],
  2. Baecker RM (1995) Readings in human-computer interaction: toward the year 2000. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  3. Boulos MN, Hetherington L, Wheeler S (2007) Second Life: an overview of the potential of 3-D virtual worlds in medical and health education. Health Info Libr J 24(4):233–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boulos K et al (2008) Web 3D for public, environmental and occupational health: early examples from second life. Int J Environ Res Public Health 5(4):290–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Callaghan, MJ et al (2009) Integrating virtual worlds: virtual learning environments for online education. Games Innovations Conference. ICE-GIC 2009. International IEEE Consumer Electronics Society’s, 2009Google Scholar
  6. Center AMM (2009) Ann Myers Medical Center. [cited 2010 September 1].
  7. Center PHS (2010) Virtual reality simulators. [cited 2010 November 15, 2010]
  8. Chodos D et al (2010) Healthcare education with virtual-world simulations. Proceedings of the 2010 ICSE Workshop on Software Engineering in Health Care, ACM: Cape TownGoogle Scholar
  9. Committee on Quality of Health Care in A. and I. Medicine. (2000) To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  10. Conradi E et al (2009) Virtual patients in a virtual world: training paramedic students for practice. Med Teach 31(8):713–720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. (2004) The DigiBarn’s Maze War 30 Year Retrospective “The First First Person Shooter”, [cited 2010 October, 2010].
  12. Eleni S et al (2009) Software engineering for health education and care delivery systems: The Smart Condo project. Proceedings of the 2009 ICSE Workshop on Software Engineering in Health Care, IEEE Computer Society, 2009Google Scholar
  13. Frenkel KA (2009) Therapists use virtual worlds to address real problems. [cited 2010].
  14. Guseh JS 2nd, Brendel RW, Brendel DH (2009) Medical professionalism in the age of online social networking. J Med Ethics 35(9):584–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hewett JK (2010) The use of Social Media in Medical Education. International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) IAMSE web Seminar,
  16. home C (2009) Coming Home. [cited 2010],
  17. Johnson C, Vorderstrasse A, Shaw R (2009) Virtual worlds in health care higher education. J Virtual Worlds Res 2(2):1–12Google Scholar
  18. Kawamoto ALS, Kirner TG, Kirner C (2006) Experience on the implementation of a collaborative virtual environment for educational applications. Systems, Man and Cybernetics. SMC’06. IEEE International Conference on 2006Google Scholar
  19. Khanal P, Kahol K (2010) Interactive haptic virtual collaborative training simulator to retain CPR skills, Arizona State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  20. Khanal, P., Vankipuram, A., Ashby, A., , Vankipuram, M., Gupta, A. Drumm-Gurnee, D., Josey, K., Tinker, L., Smith, M. (2014) Collaborative virtual reality based advanced cardiac life support training simulator using virtual reality principles, Journal of Biomedical Informatics , Volume 51 , 49–59Google Scholar
  21. Koerner JG (2003) The virtues of the virtual world. Enhancing the technology/knowledge professional interface for life-long learning. Nurs Adm Q 27(1):9–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Luminos N (2008) Second Life Celebrates World AIDS Day with New Island. [cited 2010 December 2, 2010],
  23. Melús-Palazón E, Bartolomé-Moreno C, Palacín-Arbués JC, Lafuente-Lafuente A, García IG, Guillen S, Esteban AB, Clemente S, Marco AM, Gargallo PM, López C, Magallón-Botaya R (2012) Experience with using second life for medical education in a family and community medicine education unit. BMC Med Educ 12:30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mesko B (2007) Top 10: virtual medical sites in Second Life! [cited 2010]. Accessed 17 June 2007
  25. Messinger PR et al (2009) Virtual worlds—past, present, and future: new directions in social computing. Dec Support Syst 47(3):204–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mollman S (2008) Avatars in rehab: Getting therapy in virtual worlds. [cited 2010]. Accessed 16 July 2008
  27. Nation F (2010) Fearless nation PTSD retreat. [cited 2010],
  28. Orizio G et al (2010) The World of e-Patients: a content analysis of online social networks focusing on diseases. Telemed J E Health 16(10):1060–1066CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Parsons C (2008) Second Life offers healing, therapeutic options for users. [cited 2010]. Accessed 13 July 2008
  30. Phillips A (2008) Asperger’s therapy hits second life: experts express concern about applying online actions to real life. abcNEWSGoogle Scholar
  31. Rhienmora P (2007) Visualization and virtual reality in clinical skills training. Asian Institute of Technology, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  32. Schmidt B, Stewart S (2010) Implementing the virtual world of Second Life into community nursing theory and clinical courses. Nurse Educ 35(2):74–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schwid HA et al (1999) Use of a computerized advanced cardiac life support simulator improves retention of advanced cardiac life support guidelines better than a textbook review. Crit Care Med 27(4):821–824CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Solutions I (2010) [cited 2010].
  35. Steve B et al (2001) Collaborative virtual environments. Commun ACM 44(7):79–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Terdiman D (2006) A brief history of the virtual world. [cited 2010].
  37. Thrasyvoulos T et al (2009) Implementing collaborative e-learning techniques in collaborative virtual environments: the case of Second Life. Proceedings of the 2009 Fourth Balkan Conference in Informatics, IEEE Computer Society, 2009Google Scholar
  38. Vankipuram, A., Khanal P, Ashby A, Vankipuram M, Gupta A, DrummGurnee D, Josey K, Smith M, Design and Development of a Virtual Reality Simulator for Advanced Cardiac Life Support Training, IEEE Transactions of Biomedical & Health INformatics, 18 (4)Google Scholar
  39. Warcraft WO (2010) World of Warcraft® Subscriber Base Reaches 12 million worldwide. [cited 2010]. Accessed 7 Oct 2010
  40. Wiecha J et al (2010) Learning in a virtual world: experience with using second life for medical education. J Med Internet Res 12(1):233–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.3D Systems CorporationAndoverUSA
  2. 2.College of Business, University of Tennessee ChattanoogaChattanoogaUSA
  3. 3.Banner HealthPhoenixUSA

Personalised recommendations