Mayo Clinic offers a second chance at life to patients every day, but it was a first for Mayo Clinic in 2010 when a Mayo physician was invited into Second Life™, an online virtual community, to make a presentation on atrial fibrillation (a-fib).
The Center for Innovation's Virtual World initiative at Mayo Clinic partnered with an experienced Second Life event host called Virtual Ability Island to create the presentation online. Peg Lloyd, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist, gave the a-fib presentation to more than 40 people.
In many ways it was like any other presentation Dr. Lloyd has given. She worked through slides explaining a-fib and answered audience questions. However, this presentation had avatars, which are animated representatives of attendees, attending the talk in a computerized tropical setting.
"I felt like I was at a resort," says Dr. Lloyd about looking out at a crowd of avatars gathered under virtual palm trees with a flowing waterfall nearby.
Mayo Clinic employees complemented the event's "inworld" attendance by watching the session projected on a screen at the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.
"All the conversation among the participants after the presentation was very positive," says Dr. Lloyd. "The real value is it can be interactive and real-time. And people may feel freer to ask questions if they don't have to reveal their identities."
Currently, there are more than 18 million registered users on Second Life. The Virtual Mayo Clinic is located on Mayo Clinic Island in Second Life. The island includes a re-creation of Rochester's Gonda Building lobby, a conference center to host presentations and educational events, meditation and social meeting areas, and a new bookstore.
In addition to the a-fib presentation, Mayo has hosted a virtual conference about colon cancer, with many more educational events to come.
Mayo's presence in Second Life continues to grow, in alignment with Mayo's ongoing commitment to deliver reliable medical information and explore innovative new ways of providing patient care.