Like many people, Dr Moy Wai
Lun played computer games
during his secondary school days.
Today, the Consultant in the
Internal Medicine Department
at Sengkang General Hospital
(SKH) and Clinical Assistant Professor with
Duke-NUS Medical School has taken a step
further to develop serious games that are
designed to impart specific knowledge or
skills in an interactive and engaging manner.
Serious games are used in many
industries, including in defence, urban
planning and engineering. In medical
education, they are often used as a
complementary pedagogical tool. “The
concept of serious games is appealing
because it offers something that traditional
teaching methods do not,” said Dr Moy.
While conventional lectures impart a large
amount of information to the learners, serious
games promote higher levels of learning, such
as knowledge application and data analysis.
“When I first conceived the idea of
designing serious games, I spoke with junior
doctors and many were interested in this
new way of learning. Some of them have
played serious games during their medical
school years and they see the value of having
serious games in postgraduate medical
education,” Dr Moy said.
“We learn best from our own mistakes,
but in healthcare this is not acceptable, as any
mistake will cause harm to patients. Serious
games bridge this gap,” he said.
Furthermore, serious games can be used
to educate various cohorts of new doctors,
without incurring high cost or extra resources.
This method of learning also piques the interest
of younger doctors, who are usually game-savvy
and receptive to digital technologies.
From novice to creator
Dr Moy first learned about serious
games when he attended SingHealth’s S3
conference in 2019, where experts from
around the world shared their experiences in
serious games development.
“It opened my eyes to the latest
technologies in healthcare simulation and
their potential uses in medical education
to improve the delivery of patient care.
I thought, ‘Wow, the future is already here,
and I want to be part of it’!” he said.
That year, Dr Moy was awarded the
Learning Technology Adoption Grant and
has since collaborated with Dr Azman Johan,
Senior Consultant, Respiratory Medicine,
SKH; Dr Liou Wei Lun, Associate Consultant,
Gastroenterology & Hepatology Department,
Singapore General Hospital (SGH); Dr
Mohammed Rizwan Amanullah, Consultant,
Department of Cardiology, National Heart
Centre Singapore; and Singapore-based
technology company Playware Studios Pte
Ltd to design and develop the games.
The team created three games, namely
Can’t Catch a Breather, Thicker than Water
and Rambunctious Rhythms, all of which are
based on common acute medical scenarios.
For example, in “Can’t Catch a Breather”,
the game presents a patient who complains
of acute breathlessness. The player is expected
to examine the patient thoroughly to arrive
at the correct diagnosis, offer immediate
treatment at the level of his or her experience,
and recognise the need to escalate to seniors
for help to save the patient’s life.
Despite delays in the production timeline
as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as
well as challenges in communicating with
the game developers who are not familiar
with the medical industry, Dr Moy was
determined to succeed as he hopes for more
people to reap the benefits of these games
— he spent much of his free time trying the
games repeatedly to perfect them.
“The numerous virtual meetings that we
had were worthwhile in the end,” he said.
With a Masters in Medical Education,
Dr Moy applied principles of adult learning
when designing the games. These include
building a safe environment for learners,
allowing learners to identify their own learning
needs through their mistakes, and removing
performance pressure to prevent them from
feeling discouraged and demotivated.
Learners can play the games as many
times as they wish, as the scores are not
used as assessment. After each session,
guided feedback is given to consolidate the
information gained and for the learners to
better understand each medical scenario.
During the beta testing stage, 10 doctors
each from SKH, SGH and Changi General
Hospital were recruited to play the games.
“The feedback was largely positive. Some of
them were very appreciative of our initiative to enhance the learning of junior
doctors, and many found the games
fun and educational. We also received
feedback on the technical aspects, which we
have since improved,” said Dr Moy.
Plans are in the pipeline to roll out the
games to all junior doctors in SKH. They
will also progressively be made available to
other SingHealth institutions. “This method
of learning and teaching will be increasingly
used in the future as an additional tool to
reinforce certain medical knowledge and
skills,” he added.
At home, Dr Moy enjoys building toys for
his two children using recycled materials like
cardboard boxes. The 38-year-old recently
made a crocodile out of a plastic bottle,
complete with a mouth that opens when the
tail is pulled. He also got his eight-year-old
daughter involved by asking her to paint the
parts where colour papers could not cover,
while his three-year-old son contributed by
pasting stickers as decoration. “I believe that
a child learns best through play. I often push
myself to be more creative and think out of
the box,” he said.
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