Enhancing healthcare practitioners cue recognition: Part 2

Enhancing assessment and diagnosis, Part 2

By Bonnie Hutchinson

To summarize last week’s Part 1, the key points were:

  • Whether you’re a student or practitioner of paramedicine, medicine or nursing, a core challenge is the requirement to make flawless decisions in high-stress environments.

  • Though every practitioner’s nightmare is the risk of medical error, every year more than 250,000 people in North America die because of medical error. Hone Virtual Education aims to change that.

  • The most common medical error is an error of diagnosis.

  • The dominant factor that leads to expert diagnostic performance is pattern recognition – the ability to identify cues in the patient and the environment and see patterns that connect to larger knowledge.

  • The key to developing mastery in diagnostic cue identification and pattern recognition is practice – but not just any kind of practice.

Deliberate practice and mastery learning

Mere practice (repeating an activity) does not necessarily improve performance. In fact, practice by itself, without external guidance, may even result in reinforcing poor performance!

Deliberate practice is an evidence-based method “grounded in information processing and behavioural theories of skill acquisition and maintenance” developed by learning psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, an icon of peak performance.

To greatly oversimplify, one can move from novice to competent, to expert to mastery by…

  • Practicing the desired skill

  • Receiving immediate feedback

  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses

  • Practicing

  • Receiving immediate feedback

  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses

  • Gradually increase the level of complexity and difficulty

  • Practicing increasingly difficult and complex skills

  • Receiving immediate feedback

  • And so on until…

  • Expert mastery is achieved.

Medical diagnosis is among the many fields in which Ericsson has researched peak performance. A 2015 study focused on enhancing diagnostic skills concluded, “…this sort of training with immediate feedback – either from a mentor or even a carefully designed computer program – can be an incredibly powerful way to improve performance.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it?


So what does this have to do with you?

Your training undoubtedly included practice in various forms and settings, from classrooms and labs to simulation settings to on-the-ground real-world experience in the presence of other practitioners.

And… the odds are good that you would appreciate the opportunity for more training that includes immediate feedback, preferably in a setting of your choice, at a time of your choice, with absolute privacy and with no risk to live human beings.

No more fear of judgment from peers or trainers or patients; no more “on to the next” without time to assess what just happened. And immediate feedback, so you know exactly how to improve.

Hone Virtual Education has created just such a resource. It’s called Recognize.

Actual product screenshot: November 2018


Using technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, Recognize is a series of simulation modules you can download to your phone or tablet. The first modules being developed are focused on cue recognition – enhancing diagnostic skills during the first contact with a patient.

Each module consists of introductory and explanatory videos, a learning unit, a practice unit, and testing units. You can practice as many times as you wish for as long as you wish, in absolute privacy, in times and locations of your choice (say, while you’re waiting in a hallway).

The learning process has been specifically designed to follow what Ericsson and others have determined to be the ideal process for mastery learning.

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How Recognize works

1. Practice assessment skills

2. Receive immediate feedback on strengths and weaknesses

3. gradually increase the difficulty and complexity of skills and environmental challenges

4. Repeat to the level of mastery

You can be part of this cutting-edge simulation training for health practitioners in high-stress environments.

Learn more about Recognize simulation training. Find out more here

Be notified of updates and launch dates

Scientific Citations

  1. Ericsson, K. A. (2016) Peak: Secrets from the new science of expertise. Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, CT, USA.

  2. Ericsson, op. cit.

About the Author:

Bonnie Hutchinson, freelance writer, and lifelong learner holds degrees in Education and Whole Systems Design and extensive training and experience in adult learning and teaching. She’s the author of bestselling Transitions: Pathways to the Life and World Your Soul Desires.