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Serious Games: The New Medical Practice

Whether used in a medical or accessible setting, video game controllers continue to see their uses diversify as they become more advanced. In one case, doctors are using what looks like a typical game controller to do sensitive heart surgery. The Sensei X Robotic Catheter was developed by Hansen Medical to integrate 3D visualization and motor controls into an innovative new medical tool.

Survey: Medical Student Attitudes Toward "Serious Games" And Related New Media Technologies In Medical Education

Medical students surveyed at the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin say they would welcome computer and Serious Games as a learning tool for their education.

Medical students reported highly positive attitudes about the use of new media technology and video games in medical education, whether or not they identified themselves as game players. Researchers gave an anonymous 30-item cross-sectional survey to 217 medical students from University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin. A reported 98% of medical students surveyed liked the idea of using technology to enhance their medical education, while 77% indicated they would use a multiplayer online healthcare simulation on their own time if it helped them accomplish an important goal. In the survey, 80 percent of students said computer games can have an educational value.

Authors of the study, which was published online by BMC Medical Education, said the generational shift in attitude towards video games and technology in general is reason for this majority.

“Due in large part to their high degree of technological literacy, today’s medical students are a radically different audience than the students of 15 to 20 years ago,” Frederick W. Kron, M.D., says of the so-called millennial generation. “They are actually more comfortable in image-rich environments than with text.” Kron is a former medical educator and is the current president of Medical Cyberworlds.

Male students were 4.4 times more likely than female students to play video games. These and other gender differences must be addressed as schools consider how to craft video games for use in medical education, authors say.

"Role-playing games may have special educational use to help students envision what their life would be like in different types of professional practice," said Dr. Michael D. Fetter, associate professor in family medicine, in a statement. Fetter, who is the director of the Japanese Family Health Program at the University of Michigan, also said role-playing technology could help students figure out the best medical field for them.

“Allowing students to step into the shoes of practitioners in different specialties, healthcare settings and economic systems, in an immersive and authentic way, could help guide their decisions regarding which career choices would be the best fit with their values and personal characteristics,” Fetters says.

Hands on simulators, computerized mannequins and telemedicine have become a fixture in medical education and help doctors learn how to make surgical incisions or deliver a baby, but medical schools continue to look for ways to train medical students for what they’ll see in real life. As the industry is moving to a more digitally-based infrastructure, teaching medical students through Serious Games would be another step in that process.

Sensei® X Robotic Catheter System is a navigation assistance technology for cardiac electrophysiologists. The system provides Instinctive Motion control and navigation of flexible catheters, resulting in enhanced access, stability, and control in complex cardiac interventional procedures.

"Academic leadership has called for innovative methods to enhance how medical students access the concepts that they need to become doctors. New media technologies developed by the video game industry hold great promise to helping educators to meet that critical mandate," Kron said.