Level Ex study shows efficacy of game-based training for experienced dermatologists

Medical video games can increase the competence and clinical decision-making of busy, experienced physicians, according to a new study by medical video game company Level Ex. 

The study, conducted in 2022, tested Level Ex’s game Top Derm, which recreates medically accurate skin disorders and diseases for a variety of skin tones and body regions. In total, 59 practicing dermatologists participated, recruited from a random sample, with an average age of 45 and an average of 14 years in practice. 

Participants played five game modules that included varying images and case scenarios. Not only did physicians’ scores and practical knowledge increase, but three-quarters of participants preferred learning through medical video games over traditional continuing medical education. Such a consequence-free setting builds confidence while strengthening skill sets, the company argues. 

While existing research demonstrates the efficacy of video-game-based medical training in the short term, an announcement from the company noted, it typically focuses on medical professionals in early stages of their careers. The latest study aimed to show that improvement could still be attained among experienced and busy physicians, with participants seeing an average of 151 patients a week. Since findings were consistent across doctors regardless of their length of time in practice, it suggests that game-based education is effective across a wide spectrum of ages.

“Compared with traditional medical education forums such as webinars and lecture series, medical video games are more activating, enjoyable and convenient,” Eric Gantwerker, M.D., vice president and medical director at Level Ex, said in a press release.

“The study demonstrates the efficacy of game-based learning and suggests this knowledge can be applied to clinical scenarios to support better care for the next patient coming through the door,” he added.

Overall, participants significantly improved their in-game scores and their practical knowledge, per the study. Across three modules, focused on ordinary skin, hair and scalp disorders and acne conditions, 4 in 10 doctors improved their score. The vast majority (88%) retained or improved their score in the study’s post-assessment. In some cases, doctors increased their practical knowledge by 12% in half an hour of playing time. 

Finding time to stay current on new skills and treatment methods with a heavy caseload is challenging, according to Peter Lio, M.D., practicing dermatologist and lead physician adviser for Level Ex. "Medical video games offer a unique and fun way for busy physicians to improve their clinical reasoning, enabling them to advance their skills on their own time and without putting patient lives at risk," Lio said in a press release.

The game, Top Derm, was developed by doctors with never-before-seen AI-generated dermatological imagery. It launched in 2021 as Level Ex’s fifth specialty-specific game