AI Patient Actor App

AI Patient Actor App

Direct link to the open-access app: 

Medical Educators:

Check out these instructions on how to create your own patient cases and use them in the app.

For questions, please send an email to or contact Dr. Thesen at


What does the AI Patient Actor do?

Effective patient communication is an essential competency for healthcare professionals, crucial for tasks such as establishing rapport, collecting medical histories, explaining treatment rationales, and handling sensitive conversations. These essential 'soft skills' significantly enhance patient care yet are often difficult to develop without hands-on practice and constructive feedback.

The AI Patient Actor App developed by our lab helps medical trainees and professionals  to practice interviewing patients and diagnosing medical conditions in a safe environment. While in traditional classroom-based case learning students are often provided with the patient's symptoms and history, the AI Patient Actor mimics real doctor-patient interactions.  Trainees must ask the right questions and order and evaluate pertinent tests to establish a differential diagnosis, which better facilitates the development of the cognitive skills that are most relevant in clinical environments.

Feedback is important for developing complex clinical skills. After each session with the AI Patient Actor, students receive individualized formative feedback highlighting areas of strength and suggesting improvements. The immediate and personalized nature of the feedback allows the opportunity to practice repeatedly until proficiency is achieved, facilitating the transition of these skills to real patient care settings.

The app is powered by a Large-Language Model. Trainees can select from a range of patient presentations via a user-friendly dropdown menu and have access to clinical test results to assist in differential diagnosis. The app supports both text and voice interactions. This article in The Dartmouth explains the functionality of the app and how it aligns with the concept of Precision Medical Education. Watch Dr. Thesen's presentation on the AI Patient Actor at MIT.

The AI Patient Actor app is freely available for everyone.

Support is provided by the American Academy of Neurology, the Dartmouth College Library, and the Department of Medical Education at Geisel School of Medicine.


Instructions of how to use the Patient Actor App 

You are a physician seeing a patient in your clinic. Your goal is to establish a rapport with the patient, obtain a detailed medical history, conduct a physical examination, order appropriate tests, develop a differential diagnosis, and discuss potential diagnoses and management plans.

You can focus on all of these aspects of the physician-patient encounter or any number depending on your individual learning goals. You will receive individualized feedback at the end.

Go to the AI Patient Actor app page, select a case, a language and whether you prefer text or voice interactions. Start the conversation. After you have established a patient history and developed your initial differential diagnosis, select the buttons for 'Physical Examination', Neurological Examination', and 'Diagnostic Tests' to get more clinical information.

When you have completed the interview, scroll up and select the "End Patient Encounter and receive Feedback" button in red. Submit your most likely diagnosis and receive feedback on your performance. Consider the feedback and try again. You will get better!


Example interaction

Doctor: Hi! I am Dr. X. What brings you to the clinic today?

Patient: Hi Dr. X, I've been having this cough for about a week now, and I just haven't been feeling well.

Doctor: I'm sorry to hear this, can you please tell me more about your symptoms

Patient: Sure, the cough started off mild but has gotten worse over time. It's productive, and I've been coughing up yellowish sputum.

Doctor: Is there any blood you have noticed in your phlegm

Patient: No, there hasn't been any blood in the phlegm.

Doctor: Have you had any fevers chills or changes in appetite

Patient: Yes, I've had a low-grade fever for the past two days, fluctuating between 99.5 and 100.5°F. I've also noticed that my appetite isn't what it usually is; it's decreased a bit.

Doctor: Have you ever had any lung problems, bronchitis or pneumonia in the past

Patient: No, I haven't had any lung problems, bronchitis, or pneumonia in the past.

Doctor: Wonderful. Do you smoke, use tobacco or inhale any other products

Patient: No, I don't smoke, use tobacco, or inhale any other products.

Doctor: That is excellent. Do you have any chest pain or shortness of breath

Patient: No, I don't have any chest pain or shortness of breath.

Doctor: Thank you. I think I got enough information about what brings you to the clinic today may I ask you a few questions about the rest of your history

Patient: Of course, feel free to ask me any questions you need.

Doctor: I know you said you do not smoke or use tobacco or any other products, do you have any long-standing health concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes

Patient: I do have hypertension, but it's managed with medication. I don't have diabetes.

Doctor: Can you tell me your blood pressure medication and any other medications prescribed or over the counter that you take regularly

Patient: I take Lisinopril 10mg every day for my blood pressure. That's the only prescription medication I'm on. I don't regularly take any over-the-counter medications.

Doctor: Excellent, do you have any allergies that you're aware of medication or environmental or food allergies

Patient: Yes, I'm allergic to penicillin. It causes me to get a rash. I don't have any other allergies that I'm aware of.

Doctor: Have you ever had any surgeries or hospitalizations

Patient: No, I've never had any surgeries or hospitalizations.

Doctor: Can you tell me a little bit about your close family, your mother, father or any siblings and their health issues

Patient: My mother had COPD, and my father passed away from a myocardial infarction. I don't have any siblings.

Doctor: I'm sorry to hear about your dad, was it recent? What age was he when he passed away

Patient: Thank you for your condolences. It wasn't recent; he passed away several years ago. He was in his early 70s when he died.

Doctor: Can you tell me a little bit about your home life and work

Patient: I live with my husband, and we have two adult children. I work as an accountant, and recently I've had to work longer hours because of the tax season.

Doctor: Indeed, tax season can be really busy. do you have any grandchildren?

Patient: No, I don't have any grandchildren.

Doctor: Any sick contacts lately.

Patient: Not that I'm aware of. I haven't been around anyone who's been sick.

Doctor: Thank you for talking with me. I think I have a good idea of what brings you in today and I would like to do a physical examination on you is it okay

Patient: Yes, that's fine. Thank you, Dr. X.

Physical exam:

Vitals: BP 140/85 mmHg, HR 88 bpm, T 99.8°F, RR 18 breaths/min, O2 Sat 97% on room air. General: Mildly distress Patient, in no acute distress. HEENT: Normocephalic, PERRLA, EOMI, no lymphadenopathy. Cardiovascular: Regular rate and rhythm, no murmurs, no peripheral edema. Respiratory: Mild crackles auscultated at the right lower lung base; no wheezes. Abdomen: Soft, non-tender, no hepatosplenomegaly. Skin: No rashes or lesions noted.

Doctor: Your exam showed a low-grade temperature and some crackles at the base of your right lung. I would like to suggest a couple of diagnostic test that we can do.

Patient: Okay, what kind of diagnostic tests are you considering?

Doctor: I don't think we need any blood work this morning, but I was hoping we could get a chest x-ray on you as I am worried that you might have a an early pneumonia in the right lower lung.

Patient: That sounds like a good plan. I'm willing to get the chest x-ray done to see what's going on.

Diagnostic exam:

CBC: Mild leukocytosis with left shift.

CMP: Within normal limits.

Chest X-ray: Blunting of the right costophrenic angle, suggestive of a small pleural effusion.

Sputum culture and sensitivity pending.

Doctor: The chest x-ray showed a small bit of fluid in the right lung consistent with a pneumonia. I would like to start you on some antibiotics. I do not think you need to be admitted to the hospital but we will keep a close eye on you and you can call us if you do not stop feeling better within the next few days

Patient: Thank you for letting me know. I'm relieved to hear that I don't need to be hospitalized. I'll make sure to take the antibiotics as prescribed and keep an eye on my symptoms. If I don't start feeling better, I'll give you a call. What antibiotic will you be prescribing, considering my allergy to penicillin?

Doctor: Given your allergy to penicillin I was going to prescribe either a tetracycline or erythromycin antibiotic. When you take antibiotics please avoid the sun as you can develop a rash more easily. I also want you to take the full course of antibiotics and avoid taking the antibiotic with milk products take the antibiotic with a full glass of water.

Patient: Understood, I'll avoid the sun and make sure to take the full course of the antibiotics with a full glass of water and not with milk products. Thank you for the information and for taking care of this. When should I come back for a follow-up?

Doctor: My nurse will make an appointment for about 4 to 6 weeks from now although you can call us earlier if you develop any side effects from the antibiotics or start feeling poorly in any way

Patient: Okay, I'll schedule the follow-up appointment for 4 to 6 weeks from now and will call if I have any side effects or if my condition worsens. Thank you for your help, Dr. X. I appreciate it.


Example Feedback 

(for the interaction above)

  1. Introduction and Building Rapport

- The doctor introduces themselves and their role but does not set a clear agenda for the visit.

- The doctor does show interest in the patient's condition by expressing sympathy for the patient's symptoms.

- The doctor does not explicitly elicit the patient's expectations about illness/treatment or assess the patient's understanding of the problem.


  1. Open-Ended Inquiry

- The doctor begins with an open-ended question to allow the patient to describe their symptoms.

- The doctor could improve by allowing the patient to speak more freely without interjecting with closed-ended questions too quickly.


  1. Focused Inquiry and Probing Questions

- The doctor asks focused questions about the patient's symptoms, past medical history, family history, social history, and habits.

- The doctor could probe a bit more into the patient's work environment and stress levels, especially considering the increased workload during tax season.


  1. Differential Diagnosis Development

- The doctor correctly identifies the likely diagnosis of community-acquired pneumonia based on the patient's symptoms and the physical examination findings.

- The doctor could have considered and discussed other differential diagnoses with the patient to provide a more comprehensive evaluation.


  1. Communication Skills and Professionalism

- The doctor communicates in a clear and professional manner, maintaining empathy throughout the interaction.

- The doctor could improve by providing more reassurance and education about the patient's condition and treatment plan.


  1. Motivation/Counseling

- The doctor engages in some motivational interviewing by reflecting the patient's feelings and providing counseling on medication use.

- The doctor could spend more time understanding the patient's perspective, especially regarding the impact of the illness on the patient's work and daily life.


Potential differential diagnoses for the patient’s symptoms:

- Community-acquired pneumonia

- Acute bronchitis

- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with acute exacerbation

- Tuberculosis (less likely due to lack of high-risk factors)


Questions the doctor should have asked to create a differential diagnosis:

- Have you been in contact with anyone with similar symptoms or a known respiratory infection?

- Have you had any recent travel history, especially to areas with known outbreaks of respiratory illnesses?

- Do you have any other symptoms such as night sweats, weight loss, or fatigue that could suggest a more systemic illness like tuberculosis?

- Have you been vaccinated against influenza and pneumococcus, given your age and the potential risk for pneumonia?

- Are there any environmental exposures at work or home that could contribute to respiratory symptoms, such as mold or chemicals?