Medical students can now hone their clinical reasoning skills in authentic scenarios on Apple mobile devices with the aid of a new app called MedEdCases.

The app, launched by St George’s, University of London, uses 39 interactive scenarios based on real-life patient cases to create a realistic training experience, where students are able to learn the consequences of their actions without the risk of harming a real-life patient.

Within the scenarios, which are set in medical environments such as a GP surgery or hospital, students take on the role of a medical professional and are required to treat a virtual patient as they would in real life. Using videos and text-based conversations about the virtual patient’s symptoms, the student is provided with all the information he or she needs to diagnose the problem and recommend appropriate treatment.

If he or she recommends the wrong treatment, either the virtual patient will react badly or a virtual senior doctor will intervene. On the other hand, when the patient’s condition is correctly diagnosed and treated, students will follow them until discharged and, where scoring is available, they will gain high scores.

Throughout the scenarios students will test their skills and knowledge further by answering additional questions, to which they receive instant feedback.

The app can be downloaded now at the Apple Store for an introductory price of £14.99. Money raised will be invested back into the app to cover the costs of maintenance and to update the app with more features or functionalities.

Although currently only available on Apple devices – iPhones, iPads and iPods – the e-Learning Unit at St George’s, which developed the app with the help of developers at iBos Solutions, plan to release an Android version before summer 2012.

The app was developed in response to positive feedback about previous computer-based virtual patient training programs initiated at St George’s, coupled with the growing popularity of smart phones among students. St George’s medical students have been involved in the testing phase of this latest product, and their feedback has been incorporated into the MedEdCases app.

Other developments in the pipeline include a ‘Lite’ version of the app so that students can play a scenario for free before they commit to buying the full version, and a specialist collection of themed cases, for example 20 cases on medical ethics.