Category Archives: Health

Wellnote live on the iTunes App Store

Wellnote welcome screen

Wellnote screenshot

Wellnote by Dr Darzi – a new free application for patients is now available on the iTunes Store.  Its features include:

  • Find and Rate hospitals, dentists, GPs and  other services
  • Store your medical history and those of your family
  • Appointment and medication lists, reminders and test results
  • Daily health news

Read more and download it from here.

Please comment here if you have any feature requests for the next version.


Patient Experience in Brighton

Taking Blood Pressure

Taking Blood Pressure

We are currently developing a patient-centred virtual world experience intended to help NHS staff gain valid consent from patients with learning disability. People with learning disabilities learn best from multimodal experiences and immersive virtual reality has been shown to support learning. We will use a virtual hospital experience to discover if we can enhance recall and understanding. After exposure the user’s understanding will be tested by a form of non-directive interview technique. The Economist has just run an article (requiring subscription) on the study featuring our partners at the University of Brighton, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the Grace Eyre Foundation.

This work is funded by the NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) programme.

Virtual Worlds and Inflatable Operating Theatres at NHS Innovations Expo

Lord Darzi's Keynote

Lord Darzi's Keynote

Lord Darzi addressed a packed auditorium at NHS Innovations Expo this week. The evidence shows that those organisations that are open to innovation are more cost effective and deliver higher quality care than those that lag behind the adoption curve.

I would like to report on the other speakers and workshops at this incredible event, and on the myriad of innovations that were showcased for 2 days in the London Docklands to thousands of visitors, but my colleagues and I were constantly busy demonstrating Imperial College’s innovations including robotic beating heart surgery, the inflatable operating theatre, an improved resuscitation “crash” trolley and of course our virtual operating theatres and wards in Second Life.

More of Imperial’s innovations at the Expo including a movie can be seen here.

The Government has made available a £220 million innovation fund to help get innovative ideas supported and implemented, and to back that up the regional Strategic Health Authorities now have a legal duty to promote innovation in their organisations. My blog is entitled ‘Virtual World Innovations’ because I believe that they provide a fantastic environment for people to share their innovations, as well as enabling service innovations for the future. I spoke to many people at the Expo who agreed that the NHS islands in Second Life could provide a permanent Innovations Expo.

Watch this space!

Clinical scenarios – training in a safe environment

Clinical Scenario Orientation

Medical devices are common technologies that the majority of healthcare professionals must be familiar with, and yet device associated incidents account for a significant proportion of medical errors. In this project the Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technologies at Imperial College London designed, built and tested a scenario-based simulation in the 3D virtual world of Second Life. Our research illustrated the use of Second Life as a novel platform for immersive clinical training. Participants were able to learn and practice in a complex but safe environment where they could make mistakes without risk to any real patients. The project was awarded a ‘Special Mention’ by Linden Lab as an innovative virtual world project that improves the way people work, learn and communicate in their daily lives outside of the virtual world..

This walkthough illustrates the pilot project which was funded by NHS Training for Innovation:

A busy 6 months

Speaking at Handheld Learning in RL

Speaking at "Handheld Learning" in RL

NHS Confederation at the National Health Service Auditorium

NHS Confederation at the National Health Service Auditorium

Over the past 6 months I’ve spoken about virtual worlds at the following events:

Feb 19 2009: Design London at Imperial College Business School: Accelerating Innovation Cycle Time Through Innovation Technologies (IvT) Workshop where I introduced Second Life as a disruptive technology for design prototyping and visualisation; whereby anyone can experience and share 3D visualisations around the globe instead of needing to visit a particular high cost installation. I likened this to the democratisation of print that occurred with the advent of desktop publishing and of online publishing with Web 2.0.

Feb 11 2009: British Library: Digital Lives Research Project. Here I followed my frequent fellow panelists Ian Hughes and Ren Reynolds by introducing the SciLands and International Spaceflight Museum to ask the question “what do you archive if you wish to preserve the current social phenomenon of Second Life?”. The key here is that these are venues and despite the grandeur of their interactive architecture they serve as a (very effective) context for the rich social interactions and events that occur there. Jerome McDonough of the University of Illinois followed on by speaking about their project to archive the International Spaceflight Museum and other game/virtual worlds, and drew the conclusion that archivists need to engage with the virtual world communities and provide their users with the tools needed to preserve the culture.

On the same day, Feb 11th, Kate, Vishal, Robin, Ani and I ran a Second Life event for the NHS Confederation and the NHS Technology Adoption Centre, entitled Embracing Healthcare Technology and Innovation. I ran 800m after facilitating the SL breakout session at BMA House over to the British Library where I finished writing up the session while I was waiting to speak at the Digital Lives event (above). Given another 100 years of development I might be able to teleport that distance in RL. Delegates at this normally closed meeting were joined by over 70 virtual delegates from Finland, Singapore, USA, Canada, Norway, Italy, UK, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey and Serbia. Whereas the RL audience attended the whole of the day long event, our virtual delegates were able to come and go at will. Only 50% were present at any one time, but 35 people clocked up almost 1 hour’s attendance each. A poll of the RL audience revealed that just over half had heard of Second Life prior to the event, and that two thirds would like to see more NHS events use Second Life. Good news for the National Health Service Auditorium.

December 2008: I spoke at a conference on Government and Serious Games, organised by Futurelab and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). Here is a video of my presentation at the event.

The conference focussed on the role that serious games and virtual worlds might play in education, public services, and government policy. One outcome was to help stimulate new ideas for policy, business development and research to ensure that serious games and virtual worlds are recognised as a distinct cultural form with a role in public services. The day featured speakers from BERR and Futurelab as well as senior staff from Becta, DIUS, the Technology Strategy Board, Immersive Education, Caspian Games, Blitz Games, and the MoD. Keynote presentations were provided by Lord Puttnam of Queensgate and Tom Watson MP, Minister for Transformational Government, who argued that it is time to bring games to the heart of government. It was attended by key government departments and agencies, research centres, serious games companies, and the entertainment games industry.

November 2008: The American Medical Informatics Association in Washington DC hosted a featured panel titled ‘A Virtual World as a Healthcare Information Platform‘ to introduce members to the wonders of our projects in Second Life. James was in Washington and presented some of our work, then I led a tour through our Virtual Learning Hospital from the comfort of my living room in London. The session was run primarily within SL itself, and the audience in Washington were also treated to live presentations by Pathfinder Linden, Dan Hoch, Ramesh Ramloll and Dan Sands. After the conference Hibiscus Hastings (who blogged the SL conference) requested an interview and tour for an ‘onCNN’ article (vetted for use in CNN News coverage).

October 2008: The Handheld Learning Conference is billed as the international signature event for learning using mobile or ubiquitous technologies. This year I was invited to speak on a panel to help attendees understand the implications of Virtual Worlds and Social Networks for teaching and learning. Fellow panelists included Alan Welsman of Disney who spoke about the significance of virtual worlds for Disney’s family demographic (for example young kids playing on club penguin with their grandparents), my metaversangelist friend Ian Hughes/ePredator of IBM, Forterran Ron Edwards of Ambient Performance and Kurt Squire. We were joined for the panel discussion by dana boyd, fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society whose insistence on lower case typography for her name, reminded me of my Letraset days. dana’s research on youth’s use of social networking is insightful and her keynote presentation is essential viewing.

October 2008: Virtual Worlds Forum Europe in London

September 2008: Serious Applications of Virtual Worlds (Imperial College Internet Centre)

September 2008: Serious Virtual Worlds Conference 2008

For more presentations see my Presentations page in this blog.

Imperial College Islands Tour Part 1

Second Health London

This public engagement research project by Imperial College London is spread over 8 islands.

Second Health islands have been live since August 2007 and are an experiment to help people to understand the vision for future healthcare delivery, stressing the patient experience and a new focus on keeping healthy rather than the historical focus on curing patients once they fall ill. Users can tour the hospital and complete our onsite questionnaire to help us to improve this facility further. Users may signup to the Second Health mailing list to be kept informed of developments and events being held in our auditorium. Link to Second Health Website.

Kiosks from Second Health Movie

Kiosks from Second Health Movie

Over 25,000 people toured these islands during its first year (Aug 2007-2008) and a similar number viewed the ground-breaking machinima that we produced inworld to illustrate the patient’s experience in this future healthcare model.

Orientation Island

Orientation Trail

Orientation Trail

A 10-minute orientation experience for new avatars to learn how to tour, attend meetings, view presentations and communicate with other people. At the end of the trail, users can teleport to our other islands. Get an avatar here first if you are new to Second Life

The Local Community Hospital

Second Health Polyclinic

Second Health Polyclinic

An immersive experience of future healthcare: a Local Community Hospital with embedded Polyclinic, based on NHS London’s report ‘A framework for action’ occupies almost 2 complete islands.


Virtual Patient

Virtual Patient

Visitors to this Polyclinic can speak to a Virtual Patient chatbot in the high dependency unit. This development was used during local public consultations to help elicit feedback.

National Health Service Auditorium

'Next Stage Review' Clinical Summit

'Next Stage Review' Deliberative Event

Frequent international healthcare events are held at the auditorium including the international Virtual Association of Surgeons (iVAS) seminars on surgical practice and several clinical summits and conferences.

London Neighborhood

'NHS London Tour

'London Tour' Start at Underground

This fictional area of London illustrates key public health messages on keeping healthy and the many ways in which Londoners will be able to access healthcare services in their community. Start the tour at the London Underground where if you are feeling stressed help is at hand. Follow signs to the Polyclinic to learn about its role alongside GP clinics and other local facilities. This area of London is so extensive that it stretches over 4 islands.

James talks about our virtual surgical education campus


James outside our virtual learning hospital

James Kinross has given an interview to the NextMed: Design for WellBeing Conference. Read their blog posting to learn the answer to this question and others: How realistic can objects and operating rooms be in Second Life?

The training facility houses a number of our research projects and is currently private. As it is in the SciLands we have given access to other island owners, and we intend to open it to the public once our pilot studies are completed. We recently gave a tour to attendees of the American Medical Informatics Association’s annual conference in Washington. If you are interested in surgical simulation join the Second Health notification list or group in Second Life and we will notify you when the next tours are being held. If you have not yet used Second Life visit the Second Health website to discover how to go about it.