“As a medical student and as a doctor, I found that practicing medicine was fun, but learning medicine was boring,” said Dr. Nayana Somaratna, co-founder of Medical Joyworks. That all changed when Somaratna developed Prognosis, a free medical education game for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Prognosis users make the call on how to treat patients based on brief, real-life medical and surgical cases. Somaratna said he created a prototype of Prognosis on a whim one night. The next day he showed it to fellow staff members on her ward and got a great response. Riding that momentum, he teamed with a friend and created a polished version, which they then released for iOS and Android platforms. Since then the application has become one of the most popular medical apps on the market. It has been downloaded more 750,000 times, half of those coming from the United States. The app’s success came as a pleasant surprise to Somaratna who says the company hasn’t done any advertising or marketing. How Prognosis works To get started, users select from a list of cases that cover a variety of medical conditions. Each of the cases are authored by board certified specialists and peer-reviewed. The cases are also referenced against recent reviews of the field and current guidelines, Somaratna said. After users choose a case, they read a brief yet detailed history and examination that includes the fundamental facts required to arrive at a proper differential diagnosis. Based on that information, users can choose from four tests that provide more information about the patient. Finally the user can choose from four treatment options. After the users make their treatment decision, they are given a rating (poor, satisfactory, or excellent). According to Somaratna, the score is tabulated based on the combination of tests and treatments the user chooses. Each of the tests and treatment options are categorized as either “essential”, “relevant”, “irrelevant”, or “harmful”. Choosing essential and relevant options will improve a score, while irrelevant or harmful options will hurt it. After players receive their rating they can read the discussion section, which is “where the real value of the app lies”, according to Somaratna. The discussions are written by board certified specialists in the field, and almost always peer-reviewed by another expert. The discussions review the patient’s symptoms and the treatment options in great detail explaining why certain interventions are preferred. Users also have the ability to comment and converse with each other, making the experience more engaging and valuable. “The comments are extremely instructive. Our users come from all over the world, from clinical settings where the available resources vary widely. Their perspectives on how such a patient would be managed in their country (and hospital) are an eye-opener,” Somaratna said. To date, Medical Joyworks has released three versions of the Prognosis app. Prognosis: Your Diagnosis and Prognosis: Cardiology are designed for medical students and medical professionals. My Prognosis: Pregnancy is the latest installment of the Prognosis series and it is targeted for expecting parents. The app uses cartoons to teach users about the medical conditions that may come up during pregnancy. All the applications are free, and Medical Joyworks adds at least one new case every week. Download it to your device today and join the conversation!
About Ben Amirault
Ben Amirault was formerly the marketing manager at Barton Associates' Peabody, MA headquarters. He received a B.A. in English, specializing in journalism, from the University of New Hampshire.