Game on: Cardio app lets physicians tackle tough cases and pharma marketers reach engaged doctors

Cardiology gamers? That’s what Level Ex is counting on with its new Cardio Ex app, where doctors can perform procedures in a range of difficult patient scenarios. For pharma marketers, the hyper-realistic games are a way to reach engaged doctors when they're in a clinical mindset.

Pharma partners already on board include Pfizer, Merck and Baxter, with more than a dozen signed up overall, Level Ex founder and CEO Sam Glassenberg said. Marketers can sponsor levels in the apps or commission custom content, such as a mechanism of action game that allows doctors to play as the drug.

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“Ultimately pharma is trying to engage doctors in a highly clinical setting and a highly clinical mindset. We’re putting them there with a virtual patient. They’re managing their care, diagnosing their condition and treating it,” said Glassenberg, who formerly worked at Lucas Arts and Microsoft, where he helped develop games like Star Wars.

While Cardio Ex is Level Ex’s newest app, it has introduced apps for pulmonologists (Pulm Ex), gastroenterologists (Gastro Ex) and anesthesiologists (Airway Ex) since its launch in 2016. Between 20% to 25% of Level Ex’s content is approved as continuing medical education.

The average engagement time across Level Ex games is between 7 and 10 minutes, the company says, and 3 to 6 minutes average in partner-program levels. The apps score players on a variety of skills—for instance, in Cardio Ex, doctors are rated on how well the procedure is performed, how much dye is used, how much damage is caused and how long it took to restore blood flow. 

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“We’re creating content that lets doctors play with these devices and try out these drugs on a virtual patient and then try over and over again in different patient scenarios … to understand the benefits in a deep and meaningful way in a highly clinical setting,” Glassenberg said.