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Crossing the Chasm With Serious Games For Medical Education

Following my prior post Serious Games: The New Medical Practice, dated September 7, 2010, when medical students reported highly positive attitudes about the use of Serious Games for their education, I believe there is now anecdotal evidence that Medical Games may be one of the first Serious Games segments to Cross the Chasm between early adopters and early majority, paving the way for disruptive innovation in Medical Education.

Crossing the Chasm (1991, revised 1999), is a marketing book by Geoffrey A. Moore that focuses on the specifics of marketing high tech products during the early start up period. Moore's exploration and expansion of the diffusions of innovations model has had a significant and lasting impact on high tech entrepreneurship. In 2006, Tom Byers, Faculty Director of Stanford Technology Ventures Program, described it as "still the bible for entrepreneurial marketing 15 years later”.

In Crossing the Chasm, Moore begins with the diffusion of innovations theory from Everett Rogers, and argues there is a chasm between the early adopters of the product (the technology enthusiasts and visionaries) and the early majority (the pragmatists).

Crossing the Chasm is closely related to the technology adoption lifecycle where five main segments are recognized; innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. The most difficult step is making the transition between visionaries (early adopters) and pragmatists (early majority). Moore's theories are only applicable for disruptive or discontinuous innovations.

"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," says Frederick W. Kron, M.D.

Dr. Kron is a practicing, Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician whose career includes training in Radiology, Internal Medicine, Flight Medicine, and Family Medicine, plus scholarly work in Geriatrics, Physician-Patient Communications, and New Media Technology in Medicine. The breadth of Dr. Kron’s professional experiences in medicine and multimedia writing convinced him both of the need for a richer, more humanistic and patient-centered medical educational experience, and of the fact that new media technologies could help medical trainees to a far deeper understanding of patient-centered care than is possible with current educational techniques.

As John Rice reported on his blog early November, regarding a paper entitled Systematic Review of Serious Games for Medical Education and Surgical Skills Training, appearing recently in the British Journal of Surgery:

“Although game-based learning is becoming a new form of healthcare education, scientific research on its effectiveness is limited. The aim of this review was to identify the value of Serious Games for training professionals in medicine and, in particular, surgery.”

Nineteen articles discussing 17 Serious Games specifically developed for educational purposes were identified by Dr. Marlies P. Schijven and co-author Dr Maurits Graafland. 

A Serious Game for Total Knee Arthroplasty (Replacement)

  3D Interactive Teams or 3DiTeams



Six studies assessed 13 commercially available games associated with, but not specifically developed for, improving skills relevant to the medical profession. They included sports, action, adventure and shooting games and were used to help surgeons improve their laparoscopic psychomotor skills.

The authors have made a number of observations as a result of their review. These include:
·         Serious Games form an innovative approach towards the education of medical professionals and surgical specialists are eager to apply them for a range of training purposes.
·         Serious Games allow multiple professionals to train simultaneously on one case and allow one professional to train multiple cases simultaneously. These skills are recognized as critical in reducing medical errors in dynamic high-risk environments, such as the operating room or emergency department.
·         Simulation and Serious Gaming represent ideal teaching methods to optimize the knowledge and skill of residents before they are entrusted with procedures in real patients. Educators and game designers should develop Serious Games that train professionals in order to maximize patient safety.
·         Although the cost of developing Serious Games can run into millions, this investment can be justified in terms of delivering better patient care and preventing errors and insurance companies could play a key role.

The paper can be read free online at