A framework for web browser-based medical simulation using WebGL.

Center for Modeling, Simulation and Imaging in Medicine, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA.
Studies in health technology and informatics 01/2012; 173:149-55.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This paper presents a web browser-based software framework that provides accessibility, portability, and platform independence for medical simulation. Typical medical simulation systems are restricted to the underlying platform and device, which limits widespread use. Our framework allows realistic and efficient medical simulation using only the web browser for anytime anywhere access using a variety of platforms ranging from desktop PCs to tablets. The framework consists of visualization, simulation, and hardware integration modules that are fundamental components for multimodal interactive simulation. Benchmark tests are performed to validate the rendering and computing performance of our framework with latest web browsers including Chrome and Firefox. The results are quite promising opening up the possibility of developing web-based medical simulation technology.

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    ABSTRACT: Virtual patients are increasingly common tools used in health care education to foster learning of clinical reasoning skills. One potential way to expand their functionality is to augment virtual patients' interactivity by enriching them with computational models of physiological and pathological processes. The primary goal of this paper was to propose a conceptual framework for the integration of computational models within virtual patients, with particular focus on (1) characteristics to be addressed while preparing the integration, (2) the extent of the integration, (3) strategies to achieve integration, and (4) methods for evaluating the feasibility of integration. An additional goal was to pilot the first investigation of changing framework variables on altering perceptions of integration. The framework was constructed using an iterative process informed by Soft System Methodology. The Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) initiative has been used as a source of new computational models. The technical challenges associated with development of virtual patients enhanced by computational models are discussed from the perspectives of a number of different stakeholders. Concrete design and evaluation steps are discussed in the context of an exemplar virtual patient employing the results of the VPH ARCH project, as well as improvements for future iterations. The proposed framework consists of four main elements. The first element is a list of feasibility features characterizing the integration process from three perspectives: the computational modelling researcher, the health care educationalist, and the virtual patient system developer. The second element included three integration levels: basic, where a single set of simulation outcomes is generated for specific nodes in the activity graph; intermediate, involving pre-generation of simulation datasets over a range of input parameters; advanced, including dynamic solution of the model. The third element is the description of four integration strategies, and the last element consisted of evaluation profiles specifying the relevant feasibility features and acceptance thresholds for specific purposes. The group of experts who evaluated the virtual patient exemplar found higher integration more interesting, but at the same time they were more concerned with the validity of the result. The observed differences were not statistically significant. This paper outlines a framework for the integration of computational models into virtual patients. The opportunities and challenges of model exploitation are discussed from a number of user perspectives, considering different levels of model integration. The long-term aim for future research is to isolate the most crucial factors in the framework and to determine their influence on the integration outcome.
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