For many of us, games are a leisure time distraction. They are easily accessible since many of us carry a smartphone or tablet wherever we go, and who can deny the guilty pleasure of playing a game of Angry Birds, Candy Crush, or Plants vs. Zombies? These games can provide a quick means of relaxation during a busy day. But what if there was a game that you could play that is germane to your profession? A game where you can put your knowledge and skills to the test?
Pros: Free, useful for all specialties, slick user interface, great training tool
Cons: Additional content requires additional fee
If the idea of gaming to improve clinical skills intrigues you, go and download Resuscitation! - a virtual patient simulator created by the company EM Gladiators. This medical simulator was designed by an emergency physician and uses a systems-based approach via virtual patient cases.
Resuscitation! has a slick user interface, presenting you with a sick patient and allowing you to play the role of the healthcare provider. Each case affords you the opportunity to take a patient history, perform a physical exam, create a differential diagnosis, and administer therapy to treat your virtual patient's condition. You can place the patient on a monitor, start IV's, perform procedures, and plenty more. You will see real time changes on the cardiac monitor as you perform certain procedures or provide various therapeutic measures. If you make poor choices, you can see your patient crash in front of you. There are also radiologic images (though a bit grainy) to review.
As you play, points are awarded or removed, depending on the quality of your decision-making. To finish a case, you must provide a diagnosis with the appropriate disposition. The game will score you based on the decisions you made and will give you a title from medical student to attending practitioner.
Once you receive your score, the app will go over the case in detail and provide you areas of strength and weakness regarding your performance. You can play the cases again to raise your score. This gamification appeals to the competitive nature of many physicians and encourages repeated play to improve scores, and decision-making.
It's a great review for any medical specialty. Resuscitation! can also be used at the various levels of training from students, residents, and even attending physicians.
The app is free and comes with five free cases to conquer. There are other cases available to purchase to expand the longevity of the game which can be had for a few extra bucks. Currently, Resuscitation! can be found on both the Apple App store for iOS devices and Google Play store for Android devices. The genius of the game is that it provides 'sim-lab'-like functionality in a more affordable and convenient package.
Resuscitation! Is not without competitors. Another company, Medical Joyworks, has developed two apps: Clinical Sense and Prognosis: Your Diagnosis. They are similar to Resuscitation in that they are both simulated clinical scenario programs. In both games you are again scored as to how well you perform. Each scenario is easily replayable so you are able to go down alternative decision paths to see each teaching point you may have missed.
All the content in these games is backed by recent peer-reviewed journals. There is also a list of references available at the end of each case. I find that their interface is not as appealing or slick as Resuscitation!, but easily manageable. Whereas a majority of the cases in Resuscitation! tend to have an ER predilection, there are multiple specialties besides ER that are selectable with these other apps. There are also significantly more scenarios to choose from (over 500 within Prognosis: Your Diagnosis).
Like Resuscitation!, the apps by Medical Joyworks are available for both iOS and Android platforms and are both free.