Maxinity awarded Epic Games ‘MegaGrant’ to explore VR

At Maxinity we try to always be at the forefront of innovation in the Healthcare Education sector, and so we are delighted to announce that we have won an Epic Games MegaGrant to explore the use of Virtual Reality (VR) within our Maxexam software.

Epic Games launched these awards to reward companies ‘doing amazing things’ utilising Unreal Engine – a suite of development tools for people/companies using real-time technology. Maxinity is a key award winner and we will be using the funds received to investigate the use of VR in a clinical exam setting.

Project Overview

Current situation

Maxexam is the Maxinity exam management system used to deliver large scale high stakes exams throughout Europe and the rest of the world, including the largest simultaneous OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Exam) in Europe with over 1000 candidates.

OSCEs are practical exams used by healthcare education providers to test clinical skills performance and competence. They examine a candidate’s depth of knowledge and how they react to clinical situations by simulating those situations within an exam setting.  They are widely used in the medical, dental and pharmaceutical sectors.

An OSCE exam is run over a series of clinical ‘stations’, typically with candidates spending 5 to 10 minutes at each station before moving on to the next one. Each station needs its own examiner and usually also an actor to represent the ‘patient’.  For big exams, each station is repeated multiple times over what are termed ‘tracks’. So, if you had 1000 candidates and 10 stations in the exam for example, you might have 10 identical tracks running in parallel so at any point 100 candidates would be at a station in one of the tracks.

This means that while OSCE’s are considered to be one of the best ways to examine students, they are very expensive to set up and run. There is also the added problem of ensuring standardisation of marking, both because of the sheer number of examiners and actors involved, and also the influence of more mundane issues such as whether examiners get tired and hungry affecting how they mark. Examining organisations do overcome this issue by ensuring that all examiners and actors undergo pre-exam ‘calibration’ to ensure that answers given by candidates are recorded within a narrow band of acceptability, but this is a time-consuming, expensive exercise.

How could the use of VR help clinical exams such as OSCEs?

Maxexam OSCE VR could help alleviate many of the costs involved in clinical exams by building one or more of the OSCE stations in a virtual environment, so eliminating the cost of actors, individual station examiners and the instruments and materials required.

Perhaps more importantly it could also help to improve the consistency of the exam experience and the marking. Every candidate would interact with the same actor who would give a predetermined response according to the candidate’s actions. This means that any potential differences between the way different actors react to an action would be removed. Marks would also be allocated objectively by the system according to the marking scheme, removing any possible inconsistencies between examiners.

In Conclusion

Maxinity are always looking at innovative ways to help organisations improve the running of their healthcare exams. We were one of the first companies to introduce eOSCEs (where examiners use tablets rather than paper when marking candidates) and again we are innovating by  looking at the application of VR within clinical exam settings.

If you would like to know more about how we help our clients such as Kings College London and the British Dental Association run high quality healthcare exams, please give us a call on +44 (0)117 428 0550 or get in touch via our contact form.