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As complexity in medicine increases and there is a need to improve education and reduce the number errors, simulation is being used to provide experiential learning in a risk-free environment. The typical approach is to use simulation wards with mannequin-based training to enhance patient safety through routine practice in high realism scenarios to obtain expert performance. Now this approach is being scaled up at large institutions such as MGH with the Learning Lab Simulation Center.
In parallel a range of new game technologies have been developed that simplify the creation new applications at a lower cost. These technologies are beginning to be used in the medical domain. This include immersive environments (e.g. Second Life), multi-platform game development environments (e.g. Unity 3D) or new game devices (e.g. MS Kinect). We have created eAdventure an open source game platform that allows for the creation and maintenance of adventure games and simulations without any programming. We are interested in how this low-cost game technology and especially story-based game-like simulations can be used to improve the acquisition of procedural knowledge in medicine.
Our current research focus is on how game-like simulations can be applied to represent, standardize and/or improve medical procedures (including the representation of the common errors or the capture of team tacit knowledge). We study how to use the description of medical procedures combined with representative teaching cases to produce game-like simulations that provide students with the opportunity to enhance knowledge and skill acquisition in a safe environment. We have applied this approach to create several simulations in the medical domain (e.g. teaching basic first aid procedures to high-school students, preparing for the first visit to the operating room, representation of the supra-hospital transplant procedures in Spain, improving application of the WHO Surgical Check-list). We are also researching how learning analytics can be applied to the evaluation of simulations.