Playing Games: Adopting Game-Based Strategies Can Improve Engagement and Outcomes : Page 2 of 3

July 12, 2016

Why Use Games?

One of the most significant reasons to incorporate games into teaching and education strategies is that they've been shown to produce results. 

A comprehensive review published in 2014 by Francesco Ricciardi and Lucio Tommaso De Paolis in International Journal of Computer Games Technology examined the role serious games have had on the health care industry and concluded that games can act as a useful tool in education and skill development. 

"Studies demonstrate that users who practiced a serious game training have better results than users experiencing traditional learning processes," the authors wrote. 

In addition, a recent study into the use of a mobile game designed to reinforce dermoscopy proficiency among clinicians at the University of Lyon 1 in France found that using the mobile game improved dermoscopy proficiency from a baseline of 66% to 94% among clinicians in a few weeks.

The mobile game was based on a medical education platform designed by Qstream to improve clinical skills among clinicians by using knowledge and data. 

Under the platform, participants receive specially designed questions or scenarios on their mobile devices that they can answer at their convenience, whether it's between rounds or in line at the coffee shop.

"They can take it in just minutes a day," says Mary Hallice, the health care practice lead at Qstream. 

Customers are able to design their own content and customize how frequently clinicians receive questions, how many times they need to answer a question correctly to signal mastery, or when they should receive questions that were answered incorrectly again. 

The game-like design of the platform, which Hallice describes as game-based learning rather than gamification, has produced high levels of engagement, often over 90%.

"We're seeing very high levels of engagement come from game mechanics, but behavior change comes from the methodology of scenario-based challenge repetition," Hallice says.

Alpesh Amin, MD, MBA, MACP, SFHM, FACC, the Thomas and Mary Cesario Endowed Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, says the university is using Qstream for its residents and medical students as a way to improve learning in the area of quality improvement.

He says the platform has allowed staff to test students’ and residents’ knowledge and reinforce principles. One benefit is that it can be done at the participant's convenience. 

Dr Amin, who also serves as executive director of the hospitalist program at University of California, Irvine, says he is also able to easily assess who has answered the questions and who has gotten the correct answers. The platform even offers a way to compare individual results against one another to increase competition and engagement among staff.

"It's a different methodology than sitting in a classroom and having to learn and then taking a quiz or a test," he says.

Dr Kapp says other advantages to game-based strategies are that they can allow people to explore consequences in a safe environment. 

"People learn a lot from failures. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes, so a game lets us fail safely, learn from that, and then correct our mistakes," he says.

Games also typically give corrective feedback during the process and may offer a visual form of mastery. 

They also offer clinicians an opportunity to replay a scenario over and over until he or she gets it right. 

Gamification, specifically, doles out information slowly over time, which can help reinforce knowledge or behaviors.