Winner: Best Overall!

Submission for Best Overall, Best Beginner, Best Startup, Best UI/UX Design


In a creative writing class, Stacy read an essay entitled The Empathy Exams. This short story, written by Leslie Jamison for The Believer, utilized the author's experiences as a standardized patient to contextualize her own medical traumas. Moved (and intrigued!) by Jamison's tale, Stacy immediately looked up job listings for standardized patients--and soon realized that, stuck at home, her options were quite limited.

In 1963, Dr. Howard S. Barrows designed the first standardized patient (SP), an actor that would pretend to have a condition in order to train medical students in diagnosis and care. By 2016, 86% of medical schools across the nation had adopted the practice as a primary part of their clinical training. However, due to COVID-19, many SP programs have stalled, with a few moving to a virtual format. We aimed to create a platform that would not only aid programs in SP recruitment and scheduling but addresses the problems with accessibility of SP programs across America, increases diversity in clinical training, and allows for a person-to-person connection that pre-made simulations cannot replicate.

What it does

Espi is a virtual platform matches standardized patients (SPs) to medical students with greater accessibility, diversity, efficiency, and nuance. SP methodology is backed by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) as a reliable training and evaluation tool for medical education settings.

Schools can subscribe their educators and students into Espi or students with an .edu email can purchase individual sessions. Students or educators will post their desired availability and SPs, who either need to be previously certified or need to obtain a training certificate, can select posted sessions at their convenience. At the session, like in a normal in-person setting, the SP will roleplay a pre-determined patient persona to the medical student. After the session, SPs will complete an evaluation where they comment on the student’s bedside manner, and the student will also receive a report about the correct diagnosis and common mistakes. The sessions will be recorded and our platform will leverage text-to-speech and a natural language processing system to additionally score users on hitting key points in their diagnosis and their delivery -- such as the prevalence of filler words or syntactic clarity. The platform will also allow educators to view student recordings for feedback and completion, and upload custom SP briefings and diagnostic briefings if they would like.

How we built it

The prototype was created in Adobe XD. (We don't have Macs, so unfortunately no Sketch for us.)

Challenges we ran into

We were not able to complete the full development of a website, nor implement the evaluation technology. However, to try out our prototype (with limited functionality at the moment), navigate to! You can view information on the 'Process,' 'Technology,' and 'Registration' pages, and you can log in by clicking log in in the top right and choosing a user mode. By clicking 'Educator', you can view a class under live assignments or create a new assignment at the top. Click 'Log Out' to navigate back to the login page. By clicking Student or SP, you can view the layouts for student users or SPs.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're excited about identifying a niche need in healthcare training with business potential!

What we learned

We had a fantastic mentor session with Dr. Will Grover which really helped us build our idea more solidly and approach development critically. We also learned to not rely on Adobe XD plugins for quick html + css generation, unless you want really crusty code!!

What's next for Espi

We're looking to actually fully developing the platform!

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