MedCognition: What’s in the Name?
Over my career, I’ve been a clinician, trained hundreds of medics to deploy to war, prepared physicians for emergency practice and analyzed cases that didn’t go as hoped. Through all these activities, I’ve come to realize that medical knowledge and skill are only part of the equation. To be a truly accomplished, confident and competent provider, we must be able to analyze how, what and why we think the way we do. We must be able to understand why we make the decision we do, when those decisions are prone to error, why those errors occurred and lastly what cognitive factors influence our decision making. We must think about thinking.
Medical practice isn’t just the regurgitation knowledge and doing procedures. The critical component is having the understanding, judgement and cognitive skill to apply the knowledge and motor skills in the appropriate context. Metacognition is the knowledge and awareness of one’s own thought processes. The more aware a medical provider is of their thought processes, their limitations and strengths, the more effective that medical provider can be.
When we started our company, we sought to provide a tool that allowed medical educators of all types and professions to really help their trainees understand their own thinking. Hence the name: MedCognition — thinking about medical thinking.
PerSim, our initial product offering, is specifically designed to challenge medical decision making. By designing a system that can be deployed nearly anywhere with highly realistic depiction of disease symptoms (we have different shades of cyanosis to depict worsening or improvement in a respiratory distress patient). This realism also allows the instructor to get out of the clinical feedback loop. With other systems, the instructor has to say, “Your patient is getting more diaphoretic” while with PerSim, the student can see the beads of sweat developing on the chest. Now, the student can see, analyze and make a decision — without any input necessary from the instructor. This more closely mimics real-world practice and gives the trainee and instructor an opportunity to talk about the why and how of medical decision making rather than focusing on the simulator itself and the student-instructor information loop. It gets the instructor out of the simulation and frees them to better teach and train.