Game On: Top Derm Video Game Boosts Clinical Decision Making Among Seasoned Doctors

Game On Top Derm Video Game Boosts Clinical Decision Making Among Seasoned Doctors image

Doctors not only showed clinical improvement while playing the games, but also demonstrated improvement in clinical decision making long after gameplay.

Medical video games increase the competence and clinical decision-making of practicing physicians, a new study by Level Ex shows.

Substantial research has demonstrated video-game-based medical training’s effectiveness in the short-term. These studies primarily focused on medical professionals in the earliest stages of their career, such as medical students and residents, who are often the easiest to recruit. The prior studies showed improvement from baseline and primarily looked at low-level outcomes like satisfaction and impact. 

By contrast, this new study dug deeper to assess the improvement in clinical decision making among the hard-to-reach demographic of practicing physicians - with an average age of 45 and an average of 14 years in practice. 

Physicians in the study played Top Derm, a game created by Level Ex that recreates medically accurate skin disorders and diseases across a range of skin tones and body regions.

The findings were consistent across doctors regardless of their length of time in practice, indicating game-based education is appealing and effective across a wide spectrum of ages.

Doctors not only showed clinical improvement while playing the games, but also demonstrated improvement in clinical decision making long after gameplay. This supports the idea that when physicians can experience clinical challenges in a consequence-free setting, such as medical video games, they build confidence, expand their knowledge, and strengthen their skillset.

“Compared with traditional medical education forums such as webinars and lecture series, medical video games are more activating, enjoyable, and convenient,” says Dr. Eric Gantwerker, Vice President and Medical Director at Level Ex, in a news release. “This important study expands on the vast data demonstrating that game-based learning increases knowledge attainment, transfer, and retention to show these findings also extend to practicing physicians, regardless of age or experience level. It also suggests that this knowledge can be applied to clinical scenarios to support better care for the next patient coming through the door.”

“The physicians in this study were busy practitioners who saw an average of 151 patients a week. Finding time to stay current on new skills and treatment methods with that caseload is challenging,” adds Dr. Peter Lio,, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicagoand a lead physician advisor for Level Ex. "Medical video games offer a unique and fun way for busy physicians to improve their clinical reasoning, enabling them to advance their skills on their own time and without putting patient lives at risk.”

For the study. doctors played five game modules within Top Derm. These modules included focused challenges across a range of dermatologic images and case scenarios. The doctors’ knowledge attainment was studied during the games, but more importantly, doctors’ knowledge transfer and retention was analyzed weeks later when doctors were presented with new patient case scenarios that assessed the same knowledge in a completely different format than experienced in the game.

Overall, the doctors significantly improved their in-game scores and their practical knowledge. Across three of the modules that were focused on out of the ordinary skin disorders, hair and scalp disorders, and acne conditions:

  • 40% of doctors improved their score.
  • 88% of doctors either retained or improved their score in the study’s post-assessment.
  • In some game modules, doctors increased their practical knowledge by 12% in just 30 minutes of playing time.
  • The study also found that nearly 75% of the physician players preferred learning through medical video games over traditional continuing medical education (CME).

This study was conducted by third-party research firm CE Outcomes during the period of February to April 2022. The study recruited from a random sample of practicing dermatologists to participate in a pre-assessment, complete a set of educational gaming modules, and complete a follow-up assessment conducted at least two weeks following exposure to the educational games. A total of 59 US-practicing dermatologists completed all components of the study. These tended to be busy clinicians with an average weekly patient load of over 150 patients per week.

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