Written by Dr Thomas Kropmans, CEO Qpercom powering Mock-OSCE.com
Established in 2021 during the pandemic, Mock-OSCE.com enables remote assessment using time-constrained, station-based examinations. The methodology behind Mock-OSCE.com is developed by brand owner Qpercom Ltd, which stands for Quality PERformance and COMpetence measures (established in 2008).
Unless you are a well-informed medical educator, you, as a young student, may not have come across Qpercom yet. We, at Qpercom, develop advanced assessment solutions for some of the world’s top universities. In 2006, co-founder Dr Thomas Kropmans (NL) moved to Ireland to take up a post as a senior lecturer Medical Informatics & Medical Education at the National University of Ireland (NUIG). At the time, all OSCEs were paper-based, meaning examiners in stations were completing paperwork while observing students. While analysing these paper forms, he discovered that 30% of these forms contained errors. They were either not fully completed or, in the stress of the time constraints, the results were calculated incorrectly. This meant that 30% of the students who passed or failed did so for the wrong reasons. Without automation and instant data analysis, universities wouldn’t have this advantage if they used paper forms only.
A HDip student, David Cunningham, who is now co-founder, Chief Operating Officer, and a senior software engineer at Qpercom, collaborated with Thomas to solve the assessment issues that NUIG was having. The OSCE Management Information System (OMIS) was born. Using the system, assessment forms and results could be completed online. Hardly any students failed back then (2009), whereas the ability to analyse the quality of the exam procedure, the forms and their examiners’ internal quality assurance procedures changed rapidly. Appealing students had a hard time proving their assessment results were incorrect. However, the university now had the responsibility to take the assessment analysis seriously and improved all of their performance examinations. Disseminating their results at international conferences like AMEE, Ottawa, NVMO, INMED and EBMA soon generated requests from other universities and Qpercom, a commercial spin-off, was founded.
In 2022, 14 years later, Qpercom now analyses the data for 28 global universities and many recruitment centres (HEE/MDRS). Top universities like the National University of Singapore, Dundee University, St Andrews, KU Leuven, University of Utrecht, St George University, Umeå University, the Karolinska Institute and many others found their way to Qpercom. With us, we ensure they can take their assessment analysis seriously. Of course, before 2008, few individual universities published their OSCE assessment results, since Dr Ronald Harden first invented the OSCE in 1974. Now, in principle, all universities are able to analyse their data instantly after their OSCE. Not only that, but with Qpercom they are able to email their students their individual results, quality assurance outcome and written feedback.
Over the last few years, Dr Thomas Kropmans, in his role as an academic, initiated a comparative study between 8 different universities. They were all eager to compare their outcome, so outcomes were compared during a mutual writing and reviewing/editing process of that paper. We were, and still are, open, transparent and willing to learn. However, the paper never saw daylight, as it was never accepted for publication. Five different top journals in Medical Education refused to publish it without even considering an official review process. We asked ourselves many questions; was it badly written, or did they not like the controversial outcome? Is it because students in the West of Europe, UK and Ireland, pass after achieving a minimal pass mark of 50%, whereas in Central Europe the same threshold is 60%, and in the North of Europe it’s 70%, or even higher? Unfortunately, up to now, we don’t know the answers. In 2021, we’re embedding our learning in a new adventure called Mock-OSCE.com, to do a more universal job and assist students worldwide directly and remotely in their learning. Be aware you will not find any client data, stations, assessment forms or anything in Mock-OSCE.com!
Where all universities were offering different stations for similar scenarios, Mock-OSCE.com is offering a universal set of (communication skills) scenarios. This is due to the fact that communication skills are the most important patient complaints about doctors (27%) and can be easily assessed online using professional actors with less difficulty than assessing technical skills. Assessment forms all differ within and between universities. Mock-OSCE.com applies one assessment form only, focusing on the Calgary-Cambridge Guide to Medical Interviewing. There is no universal standard for feedback, and a former PhD student of Dr Kropmans analyses the quality of the feedback being provided1. The actors/patients in Mock-OSCE.com are all trained in providing oral and written feedback. Gabia Neverauskaitė, educational psychologist at Mock-OSCE.com, is responsible for this structured feedback procedure. A final quality assurance check is done by Gabia and team, prior to sending the written feedback to participants. Moreover, we can now offer 14 different themes as part of the Skills in Medicine series to assist you in your learning process.