Science

‘Essential Diagnosis’ board game developed by Cardiff University medical student

board game
Studies show increased use of board games by healthcare staff could increase communication and improve patient care. Source: unknown (via Pickpik)
The new game, by Dr Chris Baker, looks at breathlessness, chest pain and loss of consciousness for training medics and healthcare staff.

By Holly Giles | Deputy Editor 

A new board game, titled ‘Essential Diagnosis’, was developed by doctor Chris Baker during his final year of medical school at Cardiff University

The board game simulates conversations between a clinician and a patient in order to help future doctors find the right diagnosis and treatment. The game is aimed at junior doctors and Advanced Nurse Practitioners to help them assess three key symptoms and the potential causes behind them. The first edition looks at breathlessness, chest pain and loss of consciousness. 

The game, now on sale, is described by Focus Games as “a game-based learning simulation that helps medical students and junior doctors improve their diagnostic thinking and history taking skills… The game enables students to practice history taking in a fun and engaging way without any external support. Simple, effective and practical”.

When explaining his inspiration for the game, Baker said:

“I came up with the idea for Essential Diagnosis after attending an informative communication skills workshop at Cardiff University. It inspired me to create an interactive learning opportunity for myself and other medics to practice for our final exams and future careers.”

“After developing a prototype, I tested the game on fellow students who responded positively. They felt it gave them a different perspective on the diagnostic process, generated important discussions and helped them understand the value of the questions needed to reach a diagnosis.  Students showed measurable improvements in diagnostic thinking skills after engaging with the game for 60 minutes.”

Dr Baker took his idea to the South East Wales Academic Health Science Partnership (SEWAHSP) who provided funding and support to get the game produced commercially. It is now being produced by Focus Games. 

Dr Corinne Squire, Manager at SEWAHSP, said: “We could instantly see the potential in Chris’s idea. He had come up with a fun and interactive concept to help students learn how to ask the right questions to arrive at a definite diagnosis for conditions with similar symptoms and backed this up with accurate and accessible clinical information. We introduced him to Focus Games who helped refine and develop Chris’ design to produce the eventual game. I hope we will see this being widely used by medical schools in the UK and internationally.”

Medical students have also provided positive feedback on the game; with Dr Chay Markham from the School of Medicine explaining  “Essential Diagnosis provides a comfortable and easily accessible opportunity to practice history taking for final exams.”

This was added to by Joseph Pickett from Southampton University who said:  “Playing the game with friends provided a sociable way to learn both practical and theoretical medicine.”

Finally, the Pro-vice Chanellor at Cardiff, Professor Ian Weeks OBE, reflected:

“It’s very timely that the game is being brought to market during the Covid-19 pandemic as it can play an important role in student learning. Essential Diagnosis was initially supported by the Clinical Innovation Multidisciplinary Team. Several members who are medically trained appreciate that developing diagnostic and history taking skills can be a struggle. Face to face conversations with patients and simulation workshops usually help, but some of these opportunities are not available to students during the pandemic.”

This board game specifically focuses on medical knowledge and skills required in the daily life of a clinician, but it has also been suggested that general board games could help doctors performance. Board games teach vital skills including teamwork, communication, sharing, future planning and team coordination which can all be transferred to a clinical setting. Increased boardgame use in hospitals may lead to improved teamwork and subsequently, an increase in quality of patient care. 

Essential Diagnosis will be an increasingly important tool for medics training throughout these unprecedented times. It is an achievement of Dr Baker and the team at Cardiff University that this board game is now on the market in time for Christmas and for years to come. 

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