How to deploy

This guide is for educational institutions using PKB to teach their students. Please read it alongside the How to Deploy Patients Know Best site and the PKB Manual.

Educational institutions must decide who their volunteer patients will be and how they will use the platform with their students. These are the three options:

  1. Simulated: fictitious records and fictitious users on Education server

  2. Hybrid: fictitious records and real patients on Education server

  3. Live: real records of real patients on Production server


1. Simulated: fictitious records and fictitious users on Education server

Our simulated model has been used in the years both with and without patients volunteers, here are a few examples:

  • The earliest use of PKB for medical education purposes by University of Leicester Medical School started out with medical students using the platform to hone their digital communication skills. They practiced with fictitious patients acted out by individual volunteers. The Leicester team defined a database of fictitious patients - giving these individuals fake names, demographics, illnesses, medications, and allergies. A handful of volunteers operated the PKB platform and role-played their fictitious identity and their corresponding health in the PKB platform. Over time, the group of volunteers grew to enable more volunteers to interact in the PKB platform.

  • Another way in which education institutions are using our Simulated model is by giving PKB some health data, from which we create a case study patient in our Education server. Students are then able to look at that record in the context of Problem Based Learning.

  • At City University Midwifery course, instead, half of the students play the role of the Midwife, and half play the role of the parent-to-be. The students interact in the platform and then they switch roles.

Each educational institution decides how to use PKB, including how and how often volunteers and students interact, and whether they want to have volunteers or just use case study patients.

2. Hybrid: fictitious records and real patients on Education server

In the hybrid model, working with real patients gives students more authenticity. The people who volunteer to support education are happy to bring their genuine health experiences and information. However, they do not use their real PKB record but create one on the education record. These individuals can conceal their identity if they wish MUST NOT enter their real health care identifiers number.

Recruiting volunteer patients:

  • Educators should ask existing volunteers – individuals with real health/medical conditions who work with students – to use PKB’s education server

  • PKB will ask existing PKB users to volunteer to create a fictitious record on the education server

  • PKB will ask all health care providers ask their PKB users to volunteer to create a fictitious record on the education server

3. Live: real records of real patients on Production server

Once educational institutions have progressed with simulated and hybrid roll-out, they may wish start a Live roll-out. In this model, real patients open up their real record to students so the student can learn directly about real care and authentic records.

Students will look at the records under direct tutor supervision to ensure safeguarding of the patients' data.

The educators can ask their existing volunteers who already have real PKB records or recruit new volunteers who are willing to share their records. Educators can ask PKB to sign-post to existing PKB patients that the institution is recruiting volunteers.

Administering PKB

Setting up educational organisation

  1. Sign contract for educational use of PKB

  2. Sign information sharing agreement with PKB

  3. Choose who will register as coordinator users to configure your use of PKB with your educators and students

  4. Coordinators attend one of the PKB training webinars

  5. Coordinators set up your teams in PKB

    1. Each team needs multiple coordinators to allow redundancy and annual leave (and each coordinator can administer multiple teams with one login for convenience and speed)

    2. Each team has professional users (educators and students) and patient users (volunteers or students)

    3. Consider all the teams you need across years and classes

    4. Follow the instructions of deploy a new team in Deploy wiki

  6. Create a naming convention for the teams created in PKB to reflect academic year and module eg. “2020 group 01”

  7. Add all students as Professional Users to Your Student Year Group Team and their small group learning Teams

  8. Allocate volunteer patients (with fake demographics) to student PKB teams

  9. Add all educator who will be involved in monitoring the students’ use of PKB

  10. Consider using features such as care planning and structured questionnaires in PKB

Setting up student users

  1. Coordinator invites each student to register using the educational email address of the student

  2. Each student registers for a PKB professional account to use the platform with any patient users

  3. Students receive training in the use of PKB provide an introduction to Patients Know Best and a demonstration of how to use the PKB platform as a professional to all students

  4. Educators provide scenarios, guidance and protocol around how to use PKB, this can include:

    1. Do’s and don’ts of PKB/online etiquette

    2. What functionality will you encourage the students to use

    3. What rules will be applied to the student teams in PKB - how they curate responses to volunteer patients in the platform - encourage shared decision making

Setting up fictitious patients

All patient users on PKB’s education server are volunteers and these individuals are ‘actors’ in the environment.

Educators must decide how many patient users they need for their student. Typically, one patient user is needed for each group of students: the students need to have one patient user to interact with, and the patient user’s record should not be available to other students so interactions are separate across student groups. A single volunteer can still be acting with multiple patient users with multiple logins, supporting multiple student groups.

To register the patient users:

  1. Create a CSV file of the required number of patient users

    1. Each user needs an email address to receive the invite and fictitious demographics

    2. Patients who don’t want to use their normal email address can set up another one free of charge on or and can do so with a fictitious identity

  2. Upload the CSV to the umbrella team of your organisation

  3. Pre-populate the fictitious patients’ records as required, e.g. with diagnoses, symptoms and allergies etc.

  4. Give your fictitious patients a script and instructions to use PKB

  5. Allocate each patient user to the relevant student team