WRMA Presents at Annual HIMSS Conference
Dr. Lois A. Ritter, a WRMA Research Manager, made a presentation at the 2011 Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS11) conference—held in Orlando, FL and attended by over 31,000 healthcare professionals—in a special session titled “Beyond the Edge”. This topic was one of 12 presentations selected for these special sessions where innovative uses of health information technology were highlighted. Co-presenting with Dr. Ritter was Dave Bloch, MA, of VirtuAlameda.
Dr. Ritter discussed how the three-dimensional (3-D) virtual world platform Second Life® (SL) is being used in healthcare, as well as methods for using this technology to conduct research. SL is an online virtual reality world where users create visual representations of themselves, called avatars, and interact within a simulated 3-D environment. These avatars can become animated and communicate with each other verbally and through virtual body language, thereby simulating real world communication. In a healthcare capacity, SL has features for disseminating health information, training health professionals, and enabling patient and consumer education for both academic and commercial health behavior research. It is a rich source of data for researchers and provides a safe haven where research participants can easily remain anonymous. (However, there are certain challenges associated with conducting research in such an environment, such as gaining consent.)
The presenters explained and illustrated, through SL examples, various educational modalities and ways to collect data. The presentation included a pre-recorded cancer survivors’ support group organized by the American Cancer Society. They also explored in-world places such as Club One, Virtual Abilities Island, and a post-traumatic stress disorder site for veterans.