Health IT

Software firm developing “Wikipedia” of healthcare training simulator programs

Gaming is a growing area of interest in healthcare because it can be a more effective way to improve training and improve the way people learn, particularly for medical and nursing students.

The format can involve playing on team, forming a hypothesis, revising a hypothesis and communicating with an algorithm designed to provide several different learning maps.

Maryland-based software company Breakaway has been building a catalog of medical training simulator programs with universities and institutes that it hopes will be as huge and as globally accessible as Wikipedia, according to Walter Cheek, vice president for business development.

Cheek told MedCity News at the mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. this week that its gaming programs were aimed at the entertainment side before developing simulator programs for the military and Homeland Security. More recently, it has expanded into the healthcare realm.


It has a variety of medical training simulators. The user interacts with the “patient,” diagnoses and treats them. Based on the choices the user makes, he can either save the patient or lose the patient. One simulator trains users to perform a dental implant.

Its Pulse!! clinical learning lab program is being developed in partnership with Texas A & M University — Corpus Christi and is funded with a federal grant from the Office of Naval Research.

“We are using this for educational training assessment,” Cheek said. “It’s adjunct technology. It doesn’t replace anything, but it allows users, such as medical school or nursing school students, to look at what they’re doing.”

The training platform can collect every keystroke and look at what decisions were made and the amount of time it took to make them to evaluate diagnostics skills and critical thinking. In addition to students, it would help healthcare professionals hone their skills.

The ideology behind Breakaway’s ambitions in healthcare is  similar to Boston Children’s Hospital’s OPEN Pediatrics program with IBM. The global program aimed at healthcare providers around the world is designed to provide education on diagnosing and caring for critically ill children partly through simulation. It aspires to share training modules with pediatric healthcare communities around the world. Currently, about 20 countries are beta testing the platform, including the U.S., and it’s expected to be launched next year.

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