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Jerry Heneghan, M.B.A.

Jerry Heneghan, M.B.A., delivered the keynote address at this year’s Serious Play Conference, hosted by the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School from July 25-28.

Global thought leaders in the field of serious games and simulations descended on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to participate in the Serious Play Conference. “Serious play” uses the fun, engaging qualities of entertainment games to improve participant interest in education and training and provide better research from the results

Heneghan is a professor of the practice in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and the director of the School’s Center for Innovation in Pharmacy Simulation, which focuses on teaching students about adaptability and critical decision-making to improve the quality of health care, make it safer and help educate patients about their drug therapies.

The Serious Play Conference, now in its sixth year, is a leadership gathering of professionals who embrace the idea that games can revolutionize learning. The event is open to companies, K-12 teachers and higher education faculty, as well as members of the tech community interested in entering this new field. More than 80 speakers will be giving sessions for hundreds of attendees discussing the development, strategy, value and analytics possible through serious games training.

In his keynote address, Heneghan previewed the goals and challenges of UNC’s new Virtual Patient platform, which designed to teach clinical reasoning and decision making skills across several health science disciplines.

According to Heneghan, the UNC Virtual Patient will provide an immersive, data-driven educational experience that will increase the competence and confidence of pharmacy students.

“Our software will provide a mechanism for students to have hundreds if not thousands of simulated opportunities to properly interview, diagnose, treat and recommend therapies to patients” he said. “Virtual patients have been created in the past but almost exclusively for training skills related to acute trauma medicine. Our approach is fresh and different.”

The UNC Virtual Patient will teach students how to correlate, process and act on information from multiple dynamic parameters. Students will be able to observe the expected outcomes of simulated therapeutic interventions as well as common side effects, drug-drug interactions and other patient-confounding conditions, including age, gender, compliance, lifestyle choices and genetic background, Heneghan said.

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