An Innovative Serious Game for Education and Training in Health Care

An Innovative Serious Game for Education and Training in Health Care

Agostino G. Bruzzone (Simulation Team, MITIM, DIME, University of Genoa, Genova, Italy), Marco Frascio (Simulation Center DISC, University of Genoa, Genova, Italy), Francesco Longo (DIMEG, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy), Marina Massei (Simulation Team, MITIM, DIME, University of Genoa, Genova, Italy) and Letizia Nicoletti (DIMEG, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/ijphim.2013070109
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The proposed research work introduces an innovative framework based on Serious Games and agent-driven models for supporting and renewing educational processes in Health Care. To this end the proposed solution, called MARIA (Model for Advanced and Realistic patient simulation driven by Intelligent Agents) includes new models of virtual humans driven by intelligent agents to be used as patients in a distributed simulation game together with students. MARIA’s main goal is to teach concepts related to the continuous care of patients in order to create a strong relationship among medical doctor, students and their set of personal virtual patients. Therefore it is able to reproduce the patient life cycles and teach subjects such as pathology evolution, preventive actions, symptoms identification and human relationships to the student. These features make the proposed solution an innovation in the educational programs for health students enabled by new technologies.
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1. Introduction

Modeling & Simulation (M&S) is a very broad research area with an impressive range of applications; therefore in some sectors, M&S has been historically very popular for training and education; for instance defense training is one of the major application areas of M&S. In such a context, it is evident the necessity to use live simulation, as well as constructive and virtual one, in order to provide learning experience and training sessions over simulated mission environments (Bruzzone et al., 2007a).

Another sector where education and training are traditionally very important is the health care: medical doctor education requires strong and long efforts even just by using traditional approaches (Diaz et al., 2013); in fact it is more than one decade that simulation has became popular even in this sector and a while range of solutions have been developed for training in different domains emergency medicine to intensive care and surgery (Guimarans et al., 2006; Girbone et al., 1996). Innovative solutions and new technologies have been developed from different center of Excellence of Simulation such as the Center for Medical Simulation at Harvard Medical School to Simulation Team in Genoa University (Bruzzone, Novak, & Madeo, 2012c). In particular virtual patients libraries are progressively evolving and are actually used in different educational centers and universities.

Anyway multiple studies and researches have been carried out to demonstrate the effectiveness of simulation in medicine education above all in teaching clinical knowledge, medical protocols and procedures, team working and communication capabilities (Okuda et al., 2009; Winkler et al., 2011).

The synergy between M&S and Medical Doctors has provided many benefits in medical simulation evolutions; therefore most of these important steps forward are driven by combining different backgrounds: needs and tools has been paired, so for instance new training equipment and models are developed by simulation experts in order to create solutions able to support health students based on doctor training procedures (Bruzzone, Backfrieder, Longo, Novak, Rosen, 2012a).

Today the technology advances and the joint experience allow moving forward from multi culture (where each one brings its one background) to trans-discipline (Trindade et al., 2002): by this approach the different cultures (i.e. simulation and medicine) work together to create new concepts and processes with benefits of a common development.

In this paper, the authors outline a new concept (for new medical doctors) that represents a change in the traditional educational programs: teaching doctoral students to take care of their patients along the entire patient life cycle, dealing with their needs and fears. To this end MARIA is proposed. MARIA (the acronym stands for Model for Advanced and Realistic patient simulation driven by Intelligent Agents) is an advanced serious game for multiple players based on the combination of web-based simulation and intelligent agents (Bruzzone, Frascio, Longo, Massei, Siri, & Tremori, 2012b).

This paper is addressing this modeling approach by introducing an overview on the last advances of the Education solutions for medical doctors; after this paper it is proposed a detailed survey on the current state of the art as basis to introducing MARIA architecture and to describe the patients driven by Intelligent Agents (IAs), at the end of the paper it is summarized a set of conclusions and future research activities.

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