Medical device simulation is an important part of medical training. Health professionals use this medium to acquire and sharpen their skills. Over the years, medical device companies have explored innovative ways to efficiently and effectively train their target customers whilst maximizing profit. In recent times, gamification is in the forefront of discussions. One of the questions desperately seeking an answer in the ongoing deliberation is, how can the effectiveness of a gamified simulator be ascertained? In this article, we explore some of the options a medical institution can adopt to check the efficiency of their gamified simulation.
Here are some guiding principles to have in mind as you make preparations to develop and test your gamified simulator.
- Check the track record of your gamification partner
- Demand and discuss the experimental approach from your gamification partner
- Make an internal assessment of the required resources for success
- Start small
- Just do it
Let’s dive into it!
What is a medical simulation?
Medical simulation is defined in different ways by various experts but we will reference Melissa Cappaert, a simulation specialist. Melissa defines the term as “the creation of real-world situations so that healthcare providers can learn, practice, and assess their medical skills in a safe environment”. This definition is simple but captures the essence of medical simulation, that is, medical professionals learning and practicing their craft in a safe environment.
So now that there is clarity on what we mean by medical simulation, let’s quickly define a ‘gamified’ medical simulation.
What is a ‘gamified’ medical simulation?
Gamification is the art of incorporating gaming methodologies as a strategy to transfer skills, create awareness and cause behavioural change. In the medical industry, a gamified medical simulation is a technology that aims to complement and optimize the effectiveness of existing simulators. This technology takes advantage of gaming elements such as leaderboards, storytelling, and rewards.
You might be wondering at this point why traditional medical simulation needs gamification. Let’s quickly address this concern.
Why are medical simulators gamified?
Together with industry players here are some identified medical training challenges:
- Training medical (sales) staff for new devices is costly: manufacturing physical training devices is costly, logistics of sending them to various training centers is costly, having people travel to training facilities is costly, simulators tend to break and are expensive to repair and maintain, there is also added cost of maintaining physical locations (buildings) to house training facilities.
- Medical professionals are not well informed about the patient journey of their patients, and about for example the influence certain medications or procedures can have on patients’ lives.
- Traditional medical simulations can be boring for trainees.
Why are we highlighting the above industry issues? They all can be addressed through the correct application of gamification methods. In essence, gamified medical simulation help reduces training costs for both target users and sales teams. It also makes training programs interactive, engaging, and fun.
How are gamified simulators implemented?
Gamified medical simulators are rolled out differently in various medical outfits. For medical device companies, for instance, these gamified simulators are part of their whole product offer (as a training tool) to target customers. Sometimes, medical device companies use the gamification aspects of their simulators as an effective marketing tool to show their innovativeness, especially when introducing a new product into a market.
How to check the efficiency of a gamified simulator
The approach to determining the effectiveness of a gamified simulator is dependent on the target medical product/service and the goals of the medical outfit. For medical device companies, making and saving them money is always an attractive proposition to make as a gamification company. Simplistic as this may sound, it captures the desired business outcome of every investment decision a medical device company makes. Therefore we would like to go through 2 hypothetical cases of how a medical device company can check effectiveness.
This time let’s name our hypothetical company, hyper medical. They intend to use gamified simulation as a tool or instrument to reduce the learning curve of their end-users (trainees). In this scenario, hyper medical can have 2 groups of trainees (A and B), where each group is trained with either a traditional simulator or a gamified simulator. You need to pre-determine measurable learning objectives and of course, the 2 groups of trainees must be statistically comparable.
Now we want to check if trainees who use the gamified simulators trainees acquire the Learning objectives faster than their traditional simulation counterparts. Let’s assume there is a learning objective that says, “finish hand movement training in week 3”. This objective would mean we need to measure training progress weekly or even more frequently to ascertain at what point the learning objective was achieved.
If after the measurement the traditional simulation group acquires the skill within the 3 weeks and the gamified simulation group is unable to meet the timeline requirements, then we can say the traditional simulator is still the most effective training method. However, if the gamified simulator groups complete the learning objective in 2-weeks with their peers finishing it in 3 weeks, the conclusion will be to replace the traditional simulation with the gamified one.
Let’s say a hypothetical company, stracton medical, want to adopt gamified simulation for their robotic surgery products. Their ultimate goal is to increase sales. The question they have on their minds is how they can check the effectiveness of their new gamified simulator.
There are potentially 2 ways to approach this case. The KPIs could be based on;
- The number of leads generated into the sales funnel
- The number of actual sales (paying clients) generated
Note that we have made a distinction between the number of leads in a sales funnel and the actual sales generated. This distinction is important because the challenges of medical device companies vary. For instance, if a company is introducing a new product into the market, a realistic goal for the first few months would be how to fill up their sales funnel with potential business. If their current approach is not working, then gamification is a good solution.
It is also important to mention that, different gamification products can be tailor-made to address the different sales stages. For example, a gamification product that onboard potential clients can be different from one that aims to transfer a specific skill.
Okay so back to our stracton medical case. Assuming they have decided to check the effectiveness of their gamified simulator on the number of leads in their sales funnel. A potential approach is having a sales agent sell both the traditional and gamified simulators to one group of clients. If there is a positive outcome, that is, there are more leads for the gamified simulator, then we can say the gamification element is the game-changer.
You could also have a salesperson show the traditional simulator to one group of your target companies and the gamified simulator to another group. You only have to ensure the 2 groups are statistically comparable.
It is also possible to have two groups of sales teams, where each group focuses on selling either the traditional simulator or the gamified simulator. A comparative analysis should indicate whether the gamified simulator works better.
Of course, in all instances, the KPIs must be pre-determined before the start of the study for an objective monitoring and assessment.
So you see, there are various ways of going about your scientific check. The above-suggested approaches need to be vetted not just for their scientific relevance but for the feasibility of their successful implementation in your company.
We are taking you through this thought process so you can appreciate the systemic approach you have to demand from your gamification partner as you engage them in talks to co-develop your gamified simulation products.
Again this shows that the effectiveness of a gamified simulator can be objectively and scientifically checked.
From Cases 1 and 2, here are 5 guiding principles to help you make progress and achieve results;
- Check the track record of your gamification partner: Your gamification partner must demonstrate from their previous (relevant) projects that they have what it takes to deliver results.
- Demand and discuss the experimental approach from your gamification partner: Your gamification partner must present a clear vision of their experimental approach for the product. It is important to point out that the experimental approach presented by your gamification partner will certainly not be the final version. Note that the best test approach can only be determined when it is collaboratively worked on.
- Make an internal assessment of the required resources for success: When the best experimental approach is decided on, you (the client) must examine the required resources (time, human resources, money) for execution. From experience, the R&D and Marketing/Sales departments are always involved. The R&D group is for obvious reasons but the Marketing/Sales teams make sure the target experimental groups are well informed and excited to be part of the project. In some organizations, the educational department is also involved. The organizational structures of medical institutions vary but you must ensure that there are research and marketing experts on your project team.
- Start small: Understandably, one would be enthusiastic about a gamification idea and decide to go big. The advice here is to start small, especially when you have never rolled out a gamification project in your organization. This way, you can learn from experience and make the necessary adjustments moving forward.
- Just do it: As always lengthy discussions, deliberations and discussions do not manifest results. Until you go for it you will never know the potential of your solution. Just do it 😉
Why is knowing how to check the effectiveness of your gamified simulator important?
Measuring the effectiveness of a gamified simulation is beneficial to both medical and gamification companies. Let’s examine 3 of the many benefits;
- Value for money: developing a gamified simulator can be financially involving depending on the scope and purpose of the project. A gamification company must ensure their clients (medical institutions) get value for their investment. This means there must be a clear proposition from the gamification company to its clients on how the product effectiveness can be determined. This approach is an indication of professionalism and an act in good faith.
- Relevant experience for future solutions: In the situation where the effectiveness results do not meet expectations, it is still a good learning process. The test process would indicate what went wrong and the needed changes for subsequent iterations. For all you know, the test approach or development process needs adjustments.
- Justification for future investments: From experience, we know that medical institutions have no problems securing the needed finances for innovative solutions such as a gamified simulator. The challenge has always been coming up with a justification for gamification projects. The innovators in medical outfits who buy into the gamified simulator vision, usually start small with a minimally viable product (MVP) or a prototype. With convincing effectiveness results, they easily secure internal funds to increase the scope of the project. In fact, effectiveness results can also grant access to external funds.
Want to know more about gamification for medical device companies? Please contact Tim Laning for free consultation.
Want to know more about gamification for medical device companies? Please contact Tim Laning for free consultation