Creating Virtual Patient Simulations in Storyline?

Aug 06, 2014

Hi Articulate community,

I'm new to Storyline and new to instructional design, but I have a very specific question and I'm wondering if anyone can help me out.

My organization is great at using simulation (with mannequins, etc.) when training nurses and doctors, and I want to create some templates for virtual patient simulations using Storyline. We have a bunch of clients who create education for residents and other medical professionals, and virtual patient simulations are in high demand. There are other software applications out there that are specifically designed to create these virtual sims, but I'm sure we can do just as well (and probably better) using Storyline. Has anyone out there ever done this? I imagine using branched scenarios and lots of triggers to create a kind of "choose-your-own-adventure" experience, where the next screen is determined by the decision the learner makes at each step along the way. If you have templates, sample projects, or just feel like jumping in on the conversation, please do. I appreciate any and all help I can get! Thanks!

(And P.S., if you've created a branched scenario that doesn't have to do with healthcare/virtual patients but includes the elements of this choose-your-own-adventure idea, please chime in. Thanks all!)

5 Replies
Nicole Legault

Hey there Eric!!

This is an awesome topic and I'm really glad you posted it here in the forums!

Creating branched and scenario based e-learning, or "choose your own adventure style" learning is a topic that comes up a lot here in the forums, as it's a really great way to make your content more meaningful and relevant to your learners. I saw you posted in a couple of the weekly challenges including the one for Virtual Tours so I am SO happy you were able to find some inspiration there...

In case you're still working on this, I think I can help a bit by linking you to some great past forum discussions and posts that might be helpful for you, about branching and about creating scenarios!

You should also check out this super cool example of an interactive scenario that is "choose your own adventure" and has conditional branching by community member Tim Slade. He shared it with the community last week for the weekly challenge and he talks about it on his blog here. I think that's a super awesome example of what (I think) you might be trying to accomplish.

Let us know how it goes Eric!! We'd love for you to keep up posted on this project :)

Eric Kinne

Hi Nicole,

I just wanted to thank you for your detailed response to my post.  It was (and still is) very helpful!  We're just getting to the point where we're ready to start using Storyline to create eLearning courses, and I come back to your response frequently.  

I have a similar question that I'm going to post in a new and separate thread, but I'll ask you too - do you know of any conversation simulation templates that people have created for SMEs to fill out?  For example, I have a potential project where a healthcare professional is discussing some sensitive material with a terminal patient (things like do not resuscitate, being on a ventilator, etc.), and I need the SME to provide me with the dialogue that would accompany the interaction.  I was thinking it would be easy to just give them a word document to type up the dialogue, but I'm having some difficulties laying it out in a way that captures all our needs.  Any ideas?  


Eimear O Neill

Hi Eric

I worked on similar projects in the past and my approach was done through of process of analysis (lots of research and questions for the stakeholder and SME).. which  I am guessing you have done since you mentioned you are having difficulties in "laying it out in a way that captures all your needs" from that I am guessing you have your analysis stage done where you asked a million questions like why is training needed..what is the change of behavior you are looking for, whats the business and /or job skill goals (what the learner needs to DO to reach the goal), what are the current best practices, where are the problem/risk/litigation areas, and what are the choices available, consequences for the healthcare staff, establishment and the patient in a good, bad and ugly scenario etc 

From there I worked on hammering out a design doc where the objectives are formed and agreed upon with your SME and stakeholder by  sitting down with my SME on a regular basis to flesh out different scenarios to best fit the agreed objectives. In these meetings it was a mix between discussion and creating scenario outlines..which then led to us role playing different scenarios. I audio taped my meetings and took photos of all the white board space we used to capture rough conversation layout.

To be honest it was only after this brainstorming stage that I would send them a storyboard  (or word template as you call it) to fill out. I partially filled it from the different scenarios we had come up with so it wasn't blank. Otherwise I believe my SME would have been overwhelmed with the idea of completing it by themselves. What worked for me was helping the SME visualise then verbalize and then help with the writing of the real life situations or examples and building a story with challenges in it. Many of our challenges were branched scenarios with 3 branches practice answer, typical mediocre answer and a bad practice response or action..all with real consequences.  I found giving patients names from the outset helped with visualizing scenarios for the SMEs.

Nicole has referenced many resources for scenario building above. I would add another valuable resource that helped me immensely and that was Cathy Moores great framework on creating scenarios (called Elearning Blueprint)  from scratch.. a quick summary of it is here

So bottom line I would focus on brainstorming ideas with your SME first - around how best to achieve your objectives using real world experiences and staff & patient conversations. Write the rough draft and get your SME to review enough times until you feel you have a realistic script, and your 3 C's figured out (3 C's taken from Tom Kuhlman blog post, choice and consequences that are realistic to the workplace to help learners feel safe to fail, practice and learn.

I used the word doc exported from storyline as my storyboard for the SME to gives a screen shot of each slide and the script (Notes Tab). Once the SME can actually see the storyboard in screenshots and draft script helps them again connect with real situations they have had faster than just a text script doc. 

Anyways enough of my ramblings..maybe you can take something away from it all lol..

Let me know if you have any questions Eric.

Best of luck!


Pamela Zachritz

My sales training department uses flashcards for live role-playing scenarios. I would like to develop supporting content (pre and post work) in the form of elearning using branched scenarios in Storyline, but I need some great examples to show for Monday's meeting. I would like to show two options: Storyline animation characters as one option, and using company static graphics (no animation) as option 2. I have intermediate level skills in Storyline, so not an expert yet. I love the one Cathy Moore created for the military. Any other great examples? I thought I saw one with a pharmaceutical rep on this site, but can't find it now. Thanks!

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