NUI Galway Spin Out Provides Solution to Facilitate Online Clinical Exams

Oct 19 2020 Posted: 13:04 IST

UCD calls on Galway company who specialize in advanced digital assessment solutions used in medical exams to facilitate online clinical exams after Dublin moves to Level 3 restrictions

Qpercom, a Galway-based IT company and NUI Galway spin out has provided a software solution to facilitate the first of a series of final year clinical skills exams using remote video technology, for UCD School of Medicine and Medical Sciences.

Qpercom Observe is an advanced digital assessment solution used in medicine, nursing, veterinary, dentistry and health sciences by universities across the globe. With video integration added to help universities maintain their exam schedules during the Covid-19 pandemic, the technology is now seen as crucial and is available to a wider educational community.

St. Vincent’s University Hospital and Mater Misericordiae University Hospital are the two main centres where UCD Medical students carry out their Psychiatry clinical placements but the introduction of Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions in Dublin meant that clinical exams could not go ahead at these venues as normal this semester.

Every year, approximately 200 students attend St Vincent’s or the Mater to participate in a staged Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), an examination used by education institutions to test clinical skills.

When it became clear that Dublin was to be placed under Level 3 restrictions, Professor Allys Guérandel of St Vincent’s Department of Psychiatry embraced the option of facilitating the exams using video technology and called on Dr Thomas Kropmans, Qpercom’s CEO and a senior lecturer at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine, to facilitate.

Dr Thomas Kropmans, CEO, Qpercom, said: “Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meet have changed the world of communications, however this particular exam requires a flow of students going through a series of consecutive stations (video rooms) with simulated patients or actors while examiners complete their assessment form while observing the same video room. This functionality is missing in these established platforms but Qpercom’s platform can manage the process with ease.”

Professor Allys Guérandel, St Vincent’s Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, said: “These exams are crucial for our medical students and we are obliged to ensure that students are competent and well equipped to practice medicine. Adding video to Qpercom Observe is unique in its kind and allows us to assess students remotely, no matter where they practice medicine.”

On designing the online clinical exams, Enda Griffin, Technical Sales Executive at Qpercom, said: “It was not easy. Technically and logistically it was a major challenge but thankfully we managed the examination and 90% of students were examined remotely without being in close contact with actors or examiners. This opens doors for other oral examinations and communication skills examinations in many other industries.”

David Cunningham, Qpercom co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, saying: “Moving students from one video station to the next, while all parties participate remotely, be they actor/patients or examiner/interviewer and the retrieval of assessment data, all represent major logistical and technical challenges but they are challenges which we believe we have solved using Qpercom Observe.”

Kelvin Nunn, Project Manager at Qpercom, said: “We’re not fully there yet but we are very grateful to Professor Guérandel and her team for their trust today as the first research department in Europe supporting this proof of concept.”

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