NUI Galway Spin Out Company Qpercom Electronically Marks Final Year Medicine Practical Exams

Jun 07 2016 Posted: 15:01 IST

A total of 220 final year medical students from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway recently completed their final year practical exams, the first time that these students and their examiners have participated in electronically marked exams provided by University spin out company, Qpercom.

The College of Medicine at NUI Galway has been implementing this form of electronic marking for all practical exams over the last number of years. Thanks to electronic retrieval, storage and analysis of the data in real-time during the previous years, practical exams are now carried out at various sites at University Hospital Galway, Merlin Park University Hospital and Croí, and two new sites at the NUI Galway affiliated Medical Academy at Sligo General Hospital and St Columbas Hospital in Sligo.

Qpercom Ltd, a local spin out company from the School of Medicine since 2008, is responsible for the retrieval, storage and analysis of the electronic ‘Objective Structured Clinical Examinations’. Over the last eight years the company, which is located at NUI Galway has built up an international reputation serving medical, nursing, dental, veterinary and various health sciences schools worldwide with their practical clinical examinations.

Prestigious universities such as the University of Dundee and University of St Andrews in Scotland, the Nobel Prize University Karolinksa Institutet, the National University of Singapore and most recently the University of Sheffield in the UK are among many institutes partnering with Qpercom.

Dr Thomas Kropmans, co-founder and acting director of Qpercom, and senior lecturer of Medical Educational Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “We don’t sell software, we sell expertise in Clinical Skills Assessment. Many young doctors worldwide and their trainers and examiners have jointly benefitted from this unique assessment tool.”

Enda Griffin, psychologist and e-learning technician at NUI Galway, said: “Before Qpercom was setup we found 30% of errors occurred in the paper based versions of these observational exams. Exam and Quality Assurance procedures of doctor’s practical examinations worldwide have improved so much over the past few years because we can now provide real-time insight and feedback on the exam results.”

The unique combination of having a spin out company associated with medical and health science institutions affords it the opportunity to perform research in clinical skills assessment. Recently PhD student Winny Setyonugroho graduated on the ‘Assessment of Communications Skills’ by introducing a gold standard for streamlining the 17 different domains of clinical communication skills. Currently, PhD student Markus Fischer is performing a study on ‘situational awareness’ of undergraduate medical students. It asks; Are students prepared for their postgraduate professional lives on the ward? Are they aware of all the facts they need to take into account to make a profound medical decision?

“When we formed the company seven years ago, we could never have envisaged the impact our software solution would have for the 25 universities and professional bodies we work with now. Since then we have co-published various scientific papers with some of our clients”, said co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Qpercom, David Cunningham.

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