December 18, 2017By Lance Baily

ED Docs Who Play ‘Night Shift’ Video Game Perform Better at Triage

The reality of video games is that when specifically designed, they DO improve skillsets of the gamer involved. Hand eye coordination, critical thinking, prioritization, logistics, pathfinding, and general strategy optimization are all inherent within the medium, providing so many benefits similar to the “games” we play in healthcare simulation.

So how could a video game diminish diagnostic errors by doctors and physicians in the ED? In partnership with University of Pittsburgh, and with funding by the NIH, Schell Games helped create a game that places physicians in the shoes of an emergency medicine physician who is placed in different critical situations. The goal is for the game to challenge the diagnostic heuristics of the physician playing the game and to help them re-evaluate how they think of the “trauma” patient.

Players take on the persona of Andy Jordan, a young emergency medicine physician who moves home after the disappearance of his estranged grandfather (Robert Jordan) and takes a job in the local emergency department (ED). The introduction tells players that they have two objectives. The first is to diagnose and treat patients who present to their ED.


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The game Night Shift is still in closed-beta testing testing, but it has already been receiving positive coverage. Dr. Deepika Mohan’s article about the game can be found on BioMed Central, and the whole team was covered in an article published in JAMA.

The recent BMJ published study by Deepika Mohan et al. “Efficacy of educational video game versus traditional educational apps at improving physician decision making in trauma triage: randomized controlled trial ” was developed to determine whether a behavioral intervention delivered through a video game can improve the appropriateness of trauma triage decisions in the emergency department of non-trauma centers. The comprehensive research concluded that, “Compared with apps based on traditional didactic education, exposure of physicians to a theoretically grounded video game improved triage decision making in a validated virtual simulation. Though the observed effect was large, the wide confidence intervals include the possibility of a small benefit, and the real world efficacy of this intervention remains uncertain.

The team realized that “Video games are a $22 billion/year industry. 155 million Americans play video games. The average gamer is 34 years old. Twenty-seven percent of players are older than 50; 44 % are female. A majority (80 %) of US households own a device to play games. Statistics do not exist on the number of physicians who play video games. However, states and professional organizations already require between 20 and 50 h a year of continuing medical education as a condition for licensure. Games could easily become part of the roster of accepted educational activities”.

Learn more about Night Shift on the Schell Games website!


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