How playtime can help surgeons save lives

Web content editor Ian Bolland spoke to Eric Gantwerker, vice president and medical director at LevelEx, about how its videogame training can help surgeons develop their skills in certain difficult situations. 

It was an idea that started out as a way for the father of Sam Glassenberg, CEO of LevelEx, to train to his fellows.

Glassenberg’s dad was an anaesthesiologist while he was working in the video game industry, and this was how the two ideas married together to create this concept. 

Currently, there are four strands as part of LevelEx’s suite:

  • AirwayEx – played by anaesthesiologists, CRNA’s and airway specialists;
  • GastroEx – played by gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons;
  • PulmEx – played by pulmonologists and critical care specialists;
  • CardioEx – played by general, EP and interventional cardiologists.

Gantwerker commented on the range of apps provided, as well as the feedback they have received, saying: “When expanding our suite you can see we’re going into different areas, using different techniques to recreate that. 

“We go to the medical conferences respective of the different specialties that we go into and the overwhelming response has been positive. We’ve had people come and play one level for 30 or 40 minutes. They come back the next day, play it again, bring their friends and we’ve seen that time and again for all of our games across all of our different events which is a phenomenal response.”

The games can be downloaded on smartphone devices, allowing surgeons to access to the software wherever they are, which Gantwerker states is one of LevelEx’s core selling points. He believes there is scope for other devices to be attached to the smartphone to allow a different user experience, while emphasising the possibilities for developing other games are “endless,” – though he did suggest that there’s only so much bandwidth they have to work with.

“We really want to be in their pocket at all times when they have their down time because their time is so limited.

“We’ve had several people come up to us and ask us to integrate our interaction with a physical device. We could do it but it’s not core to what we want to do. We also do a lot of our stuff in virtual reality which again ties it to a physical device.”

Though there is the potential to expand in providing a physician aid strand to its suite and helping patient care, for now the next step for LevelEx seems to be to move from procedures when offering training via its application. 

“We’re basically doing a lot of procedural cases. We’d like to expand our suite and really expand our ability to create patient experiences to create these interactions where physicians can train in non-procedural ways.

“We want to create a suite of games for them so that everybody who’s in that specialty can experience and enjoy it, and that can also unlock the doors for other specialties for us.”




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