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Doctors at Play

Game-based learning developed by physicians helps health workers save time, increase accuracy, and relieve stress.

ELB Learning was approachable, creative, and flexible when it came to collaborating on our latest educational game, Dr. Neb. When we built out Dr. Neb using the Scenarios template we were delighted by their willingness to brainstorm beyond the template, explore new, technically challenging gaming features, and ultimately execute our ideas with a high degree of polish. The ELB Learning can-do attitude is the perfect match for clients looking to develop innovative educational games!

Senior eLearning Instructional Designer


This client is a nonprofit global leader in advancing best patient outcomes through innovative medical education, clinical research, and team-based care. For the last two decades, the organization has used in-person and virtual games to enhance continuing medical educational activities as part of its overall education initiatives.


A study by the American Medical Association reported that almost half of healthcare workers are experiencing some degree of burnout—a situation made exponentially worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Physician’s Foundation reports that nearly one out of every four physicians worked 60-plus hours per week, and that 80 percent are unable to see new patients. Facing such mentally and physically taxing workloads, clinicians often struggle to find time for vital continuing education.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, our client's COVID-19 task force contracted The Game Agency, a division of ELB Learning to develop a story-driven simulation game that could deliver updates to care rapidly and in a way that was engaging and low-pressure. ELB Learning created Dr. Neb, a story driven simulation that helps pulmonologists dialogue with patients to determine appropriate care.

Dr. Neb is a Scenarios that helps clinicians who treat patients with uncontrolled COPD. One of the goals in building this game was to change the stigma of the drug, Nebulized LAMA, so that Pulmonologists understand it is a good solution to prescribe for many patients, not just ones at high risk. The goal was to create best practices in having conversations with patients about the drug.

The game was a resounding success and showed physicians how games can help deliver effective learning experiences in a timely manner, even to relatively sophisticated audiences.

Our client asked ELB Learning to help it develop additional learning games that would address a variety of clinician needs around continuing education, patient care, and technology. 

Strategy & Solution

ELB Learning's learning architects worked closely with the client's subject matter experts to design and develop a comprehensive learning strategy that would deliver a premium learning experience in the least amount of time. ELB Learning worked with subject matter experts to brainstorm and storyboard game mechanics that align with tightly focused learning objectives that would make the most of the learners’ time and attention. The team also tailored the delivery to the learner’s area of expertise, specific challenges, and career stage.

ELB Learning's approach uses educational games that rely on fun and friendly competition to transfer knowledge, instead of traditional learning that relies solely on the pressure to perform well on  exams. Clinicians, with their high stress load, can use games to decompress and be productive at the same time. 

This Dr. Neb Scenarios game showcases a series of virtual conversations between doctors and patients, laid out with a storybook narrative much like a comic book with voice bubbles. The game walks through a set of interactions with different patients and experiences with doctors asking patients a number of questions, listening to their responses, and then making recommendations based on what they hear.

During each of the 4 scenarios, players are tasked with selecting choices that address the needs of the patient. Points are awarded based on their responses as they are sent down different branching paths. Players must navigate conversations and identify the best response. The game includes a tug-of-war meter which moves left to “unsatisfactory” or right to“satisfactory” depending on the players responses. This indicates to the player their progress throughout the experience. There is also a “history” button that allows players to go back and review their answers and see how they should have responded to follow the correct path forward.

This Scenarios game was built using The Training Arcade®, an authoring tool with a library of games designed for training and education. Creators can add images, animations, live action video, and audio. In this case, CHEST chose to use an animated style to appeal to their audience. CHEST engaged some of their member physicians to define the script and worked with our illustrators to animate each scene.

A Senior Instructional Designer with our client, explains why games work for her community in a webinar we did with The Training Magazine, “Our learners have complex patients with lots of electronic charts to study and they often work long hours and are frequently on call. They are high performers but have a short attention span and not much time for learning.” The ID creates micro games with The Training Arcade that can be deployed on mobile or tablets so that these busy doctors can learn on the go. “Game-based training,” she says, “is not only fun, it also provides an escape from reality and a chance to practice in a safe place, to fail and to learn. Physicians like these games because they are ‘bite-sized’ and they really enjoy the competitive aspect of the gameplay.”

The game lives on the client's eLearning portal and can be accessed by all of their member pulmonologists. It is also being used at their events throughout the year.

Through games, learners are educated, motivated, and celebrated. Games, missions, points, badges, and leaderboards have proven to be effective motivators among this highly competitive and driven group. Backend analytics allow developers to evaluate learners and structure future games to their unique needs.

In addition to standalone experiences, ELB Learning also developed games to supplement webinars, hands-on instruction, seminars, and CHEST’s extensive elearning library.


Today, the client has more than 20 asynchronous education games readily available for medical clinicians to play in a virtual gamified learning environment and has reported more than 5,000 unique play sessions across all games. The data indicates that learner knowledge improved by 27% between players’ first and second sessions and by 34% between a player’s first and third game sessions. Learners have surpassed their internal threshold of 75% accuracy on all games by their third attempt.

The client's education division is developing additional games to meet a variety of clinician needs, including developing meaningful dialogue around complex patient cases, technology trends, bedside manner, and other soft skills clinicians will need to deliver successful patient care.

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