Recently Imperial College London commissioned me to develop a virtual hospital campus in Second Life to illustrate what healthcare of the future could look like.The result is called ‘Second Health’, and has just gone live in the SciLands. One of our aims is to help patients and clinicians visualise their journeys through current and future medical procedures.In order to ensure wide appeal I also managed the production of several films inside Second Life with storylines that show what people can expect when they access health care, such as emergency services or scheduled surgery. These movies, like the one below on planned care are now available on Youtube and in a variety of formats for other media.Producing this project was not as easy as it sounds! Conceptualising and managing the project consumed a lot of personal time, as well as work time. But it was worthwhile because I think that it forms the basis for a platform that in the future could provide health information and healthcare service delivery, and I am keen to forge links with the other medical projects in Second Life.
Second Health Campus helps to illustrate the most efficient and effective pathways to care in a multimedia experience within an evocative virtual infrastructure, and will have a role in educating and informing patients and practitioners. The whole experience is quite unlike anything that can be created (currently) on a website.
The whole team has already learned a lot during the project. The beautiful hospital buildings were created by NMC Virtual Worlds from a conceptual design by James Kinross and other members of Professor Darzi’s team at St Mary’s Hospital. James and I did a lot of fine tuning to try to ensure both verisimilitude and avatar friendliness (a delicate balance). Troy provided an orientation experience. Ani and I created a website that incorporates the movies and a Second Life introduction and registration for new users. We also reproduced a similar orientation and registration process for the SciLands.
The movies break new ground in many ways, for example in the natural look and feel and their production values thanks to Dylan Byrne, the creative filmmaker, who directed our numerous actor/avatars over skype.
In order to maintain the feel of normalcy I banned flying and dancing on set (the hallmark of much machinima) and created many of the avatars to have a natural, representative and diverse cast to play the central and supporting roles. The results have been much admired.
The hospital design was based on recommendations in the UK National Health Care Service London Framework for Action report, not on any particular hospital, and we are now researching how effective the project is in communicating complex healthcare delivery messages. Please visit www.secondhealth.org.uk or teleport directly to Second Health in Second Life and see for yourself.
And don’t forget to take our inworld survey to let us know what you think.
Visitors are able to tour the facilities and interact with one another (yes – voice is enabled). Our activities at Second Health Hospital and full details of its use can be followed in detail at the project’s website. For further insight on Second Health and other SciLands projects in Second Life I recommend Ugotrade’s blog article by Tish. I also recommend her exclusive interview with Philip Rosedale that throws light on the future evolution of Second Life.