Real Science: How Games Can Help Patients and The Public Give Doctors a Second Set of Eyes
1.5.11 | Researchers at the Morgridge Institute for Research are developing games to help educate medical professionals and improve patient care.
We imagine a crowd of players serving, in aggregate, as a second set of eyes that might help doctors to see detail that they might otherwise miss.
– Ben Shapiro, research associate, Morgridge Institute for Research
In “Anatomy Pro-Am” for example, players will be able to meet virtual cancer patients and diagnose their conditions using real time actual patient data. Developers hope it will eventually be a space for a professional–amateur community to arise around cancer treatment. Plans are in the works to release the game for the iPhone and iPad.
“We imagine a crowd of players serving, in aggregate, as a second set of eyes that might help doctors to see detail that they might otherwise miss,” Ben Shapiro, a research associate at the Morgridge Institute said via email.
The game aims to teach about cancer, cancer treatment, and how medical imaging technologies and radiation are used to see inside the body and make diagnoses. Players are positioned as cancer doctors and are able to use the same tools as medical professionals.
Kurt Squire, associate education professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains the motivation for creating a game in which medical advice is crowdsourced:
Let’s say you go to the doctor to be diagnosed, players out there would have the opportunity to also see the data and make a diagnosis and make a recommendation to the doctor.
One of the reasons we’re doing this is that the prognoses that doctors make are really bad. If you ask five doctors how to treat someone with cancer, all five will probably give different responses. What we want to do is to use games as a leverage point to get the medical establishment to talk more seriously about which sort of methods of treatment work and which ones don’t.
Developers are exploring how games like this can help medical patient players have richer conversations with their doctors and make more informed decisions about their own health.
They also hope to inspire young people who might be thinking about future medical careers.
The privately funded Morgridge Institute for Research is part of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, which also oversees the public Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Both research facilities moved into a new building on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in December where they’ll focus on interdisciplinary biomedical research and technological applications aimed at improving human health and welfare.
Sangtae “Sang” Kim, executive director of the Morgridge Institute, told the Wisconsin State Journal that its mission can be summed up in the phrase “discovery to delivery.”
“Prototyping Our Way to Reforming Education,” a Spotlight story by Heather Chaplin, explores how game developers are using rapid prototyping and tons of user testing to quickly get digital tools out to educators.
“In practice,” writes the Journal’s Ron Seely, “that means an idea will enter the building in the head of a researcher, take shape in the scientist’s lab, leave the building in the form of a treatment or device and be put into place in a private clinic or a business.
“It is, in essence, the Wisconsin Idea—that knowledge generated at the university needs to be shared with the wider world—at hyper speed.”
In time, the Morgridge Institute hopes to discover new treatments and cures for some of the world’s most devastating diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, hepatitis C, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Games and digital simulations promise to be an important part of this effort, and games are already in the works around viruses and gender in science. Researchers hope to release prototypes to the public later this year.
Leave a comment
Comments are moderated to ensure topic relevance and generally will be posted quickly.