Subscribe to our newsletter

Thought Leadership | 16th January 2024

Gamification: what is it and how can it help medical education?

Read Time: 3 minutes

Until now, medical education has largely relied on traditional methods of teaching, such as lectures and wider reading. While those foundations remain crucial, modern healthcare demands more.

It calls for healthcare professionals who understand medical theory but who are also adaptable and collaborative team players in practice. Gamification, an increasingly popular trend in healthcare, offers an innovative solution that keeps staff engaged through interactive learning.

Following the appointment of a new Head of Medical Education and partnership with a new provider, Onyx Health looks at how innovation and gamification are the key to achieving results in medical education.


What is gamification?

Gamification is the use of game elements, like point-scoring and teamwork, in non-gaming contexts. Education is just one of those, which itself can be broken down into countless real-world applications.

Take Duolingo, a platform for learning languages. What might typically be referred to as modules or units is instead presented like levels in a videogame, complete with interactivity and animations. Physical examples are found in the form of Nike Run and Peloton, which let you compete in virtual challenges and compare your exercise to other users.

Gamification goes beyond just making the mundane more fun, however.


What are the benefits of gamification in healthcare?

Through greater engagement and reward, gamification can make certain tasks or activities more enjoyable. As a result, users or participants are motivated to act, learn and solve problems.

When applied to medical education, gamification has many benefits:

Human Factors

Gamification goes beyond traditional teaching methods, focusing instead on the human factors of healthcare like teamwork, communication and problem-solving. Principles of psychology, cognition and behaviour feed into the game design so that learners feel motivated and rewarded through learning.

By making use of human-centred elements, such as competition and collaboration, gamification allows education to be more interactive and enjoyable, and ultimately improves outcomes. The lack of these and other factors, as Gordon Dupont found in 1993, leads to errors and mistakes.

Scrub Games, an Onyx Health partner and provider of escape room-based coaching for surgical teams, aims to reduce the likelihood of such errors in healthcare through effective gamified training. While fun, the game-based sessions deliver in-person and collaborative training that can better equip teams to provide patient care.

The partnership is a result of Onyx Health’s commitment to innovating and leading in medical education, and follows the appointment of Sarah Seilly, Onyx Health’s Head of Medical Education:

“Healthcare professionals undertake many hours of training, even years after qualifying, so finding new and innovative ways of delivering medical education is crucial to ensure learner engagement and improved patient outcomes. Scrub Games’ use of gamification is a great example, allowing healthcare professionals to engage in clinical scenarios in a controlled and safe environment, enhancing critical thinking, communication skills and clinical decision-making.”

Sarah Seilly, Head of Medical Education at Onyx Health


Balancing fun and fact

The team behind Scrub Games, sharing years of experience in surgical practice and education, swaps the conventional classrooms for team-oriented escape rooms. This helps translate complex scientific instructions into practical learning.

The sessions centre around timed and competitive challenges, with added surprises to replicate real-world scenarios and develop both technical and non-technical skills. Despite its apparent simplicity, this form of gamification can build motivation and engagement, while also developing team dynamics and communication skills. A formal review follows each session, with participants given feedback and learning points to take away.

Find out more on Onyx Health and our fresh approach to medical education.


Back to Blog