Virtual Patient

Etym. virtual (adj.) The meaning “being something in essence or effect, though not actually or in fact” is from mid-15c., probably via sense of “capable of producing a certain effect” (early 15c.). Computer sense of “not physically existing but made to appear by software” is attested from 1959.

Etym. patient (n.) “suffering or sick person under medical treatment,” late 14c.


  • A representation of an actual patient. Virtual patients can take many forms such as software-based physiological simulators, simulated patients, physical manikins, and simulators, (Ellaway, Poulton, Fors et al., 2008).
  • A computer program that simulates real-life clinical scenarios in which the learner acts as a health care provider obtaining a history and physical exam, and making diagnostic and therapeutic decisions (Australian Society for Simulation in Healthcare).

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