OSCE Manager

Long Title: Application to manage the organization of Objective Structured Clinical Evaluations and simulated patients
Universität Basel
Université de Lausanne
Universität Bern
Universität Zürich
Université de Genève
Domain: ELS
Status: finished
Start Date: 01.01.2012
End Date: 30.12.2012
Project Leader: D. Böhler
Deputy Project Leader: D. Kohler
Website: http://www.osce-manager.com

OSCE exams are very demanding in respect of organisation and time. The OSCE Manager eases thinking within the creation of exams, assures fast and effective change management and improves the quality of schedules for students, simulated patients and examiners.


Component Description
OSCE Manager Website Website with introductory video, documentation and manual
OSCE Manager Code Source Code on github; GNU General Public License Version 3 (GPLv3)

With the OSCE Manaer a complete Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) can be planned and executed:

  1. administrate basic data (simulation patient management, role management, OSCE management)
  2. plan OSCE (OSCE structure creation, learning objectives, exclusion criteria, examimation schedule, invitations, assignments, circuit plans and bell plans, blueprint, payments)
  3. execute OSCE (import, e-OSCE, security)
  4. evaluate OSCE (item analysis, statistics, export)

OSCE Manager is in use at the Medical faculty of University of Basel. The software is open source and covers the long lasting need for an administrative software solution for OSCE exams. Many process steps have been partially or fully automated. OSCE manager decreases the error rate and reduces the complexity for the user. It saves considerablly time (also of scientific staff) and improves knowledge about the OSCE process. It allows new staff to become acquainted with OSCEs much faster and helps to cover gaps when key persons are not available.

All Swiss medical faculties are interested in using OSCE manager in the near future.
The existing collaboration with e-OSCE will be intensified and the e-OSCE interface simplified.

Initial Situation

OSCEs are mostly performed at Medical Faculties; in Switzerland all five faculties perform OSCE's. In summer 2011 for the first time an OSCE was performed by the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Basel.
The coordination of examiners, students and simulated patients (SP) in the respective rooms/stations is a big organizational challenge, actually still done by hand and brain.
Different tasks for the OSCE organisation are actually done in separate Excel sheets. There is no common database and these works take 2-3 weeks for each OSCE. Any subsequent change results in the necessity of updating several Excel files by hand.
The anamnesis forms of SP's are stored in Word documents. A search for a SP, for example, with a BMI over 30 means to scan all anamnesis forms manually.
The processes of OSCE-organization are very complex and interdependent. The different parts have to be delivered by different staff members and have to be documented process oriented. The transcription into a software program is highly demanding.
The two main problems were already specified and solved and are integrated in the OSCE Manager: On the one hand, there is the necessity to generate schedules for classes, which are optimal with respect to the time required to examine all students. On the other hand, it is vital to allocate the students, examiners and simulated patients to these schedules. The components that solve the mentioned problems now need to be embedded into an applicalion that can be used by any person, even without a technical background.


Examinations are an inherent part of teaching. The assessment of practical skills is essential for the documentation of the study progress of the students. The highly individualized OSCE ensures objectivity for each student but the organisation is very demanding.
The intention of the OSCE application is to allow the management of all required entities (such as students, examiners, rooms, simulated patients etc.) and embed the already existing components (to generate timetables for classes and allocate simulated patients to these timetables in an optimal way).
Any person regardless of their technical background can then use this application to organize OSCEs in an intuitive and far more efficient way. Therefore the allocation of resources is optimized which results in saving costs.
The OSCE-Manager will be developed as an open source software to make it freely accessible for Swiss and foreign Universities without further licensing.


The OSCE is a standardized process. That is why it is suitable to be modelled in a software. The reason why this has not been done by now may be explained in the complexity of the processes. This complexity is also responsible why personal changes may have devastating effects. lt takes months to break somebody new into the whole workflow. The entity is accordingly fragile since minor faults can have a huge impact on the whole OSCE organization.
The OSCE Manager models all processes of an OSCE. The error-proneness is therefore smaller and with clear user guidance the next steps are predictable. The OSCE Manager will be used by many staff members in different domains of the OSCE process. New employees can become acquainted much faster.
Until now there is no comparable tool that models the OSCE process to its full extend. No medical faculty in Switzerland owns a useful solution. Consequently, this project is interesting for all medical faculties in Switzerland.
This application will be developed for OSCE according to the Bologna reform. As soon as this software is successfully implemented in the Lernzentrum Medizin, other Universities (also offshore) can use the application to organize OSCEs for their medical students.


Partners are interviewed in advance so they can actively participate in the creation of the software. The authorization system with AAI is specifically designed in discussion with all partners. An Oracle database is used due to its capacity to manage great amounts of writing access, big cross-classified tables and Hot-Swap Backup. The GWT Webframework is used on the client side.
Visual prototypes are made to illustrate the application to non-technical personnel.
The following milestones are planned:

  1. Interviews with all involved staff; stable data model
  2. Implementation: Managing of simulated patient anamnesis
  3. Fill in data and testing; simulated patient module ready
  4. Implementation: Assignment of simulated patient, case and examiner management
  5. Fill in data and testing; modules ready to be used
  6. Implementation: Station, OSCE and student management, automatic assignment
  7. Fill in data and testing. The whole system is functional and may be used for management of an OSCE

The application will be developed modular and the database will continuously be filled with testing data. As soon as a module is finished it can be filled with data and can be tested. After this it will go to productive state. There has to be a first final version before the end of 2012 to manage the examinations in January. After the examinations bug fixing will be done.
Due to the fact that the authentication system will only be implemented at the end of the project, partners will not be confronted with the final version until then. In consequence of interviews and OOA partners can work on the functionality of the software from the beginning on.