The recent international success of Pokemon GO demonstrates the appetite for games on mobile devices. Mobile games are big business for app developers. One look through the Apple or Android app stores will convince you of this fact. There are literally thousands of games available for download. What about the use of serious games in medicine? Here on iMedicalApps we have reviewed a number of games for healthcare providers including Ward RoundResuscitation! and various quiz games for board exam preparation. Apps such as Ward Round and Resuscitation! use game-play features to entertain, motivate and sustain the attention of players. The goal is to make learning fun.

The latest serious games entry is PALS Sim 2016 from Anesoft. Founded in 1987 by a lawyer and an anesthesiologist, Anesoft has been making computer software for anesthesia simulation and code management for decades. The company also makes a number of apps that utilize the same technology as their computer software. Anesoft has published a number of studies showing positive outcomes from the use of their software in anesthesia, ACLS and PALS codes. Previously, we favorably reviewed their ACLS Sim 2016 app here on iMedicalApps. The PALS app contains 8 case-based scenarios written by Drs. Kathleen Ventre and Howard Schwid. Four cases cover ventricular fibrillation, two cover bradycardia, and two cover supraventricular tachycardia. Users must make an in-app purchase to unlock all 8 cases.

Login to iMedicalApps in order to view the following video review of PALS Sim 2016. Registration for iMedicalApps is free.

Evidence based medicine

The app’s scenarios use the current 2015 PALS algorithms. Anesoft has published a number of articles showing retention of resuscitation algorithms through use of their computer software. There did not appear to be any evidence published on their apps, but they utilize the same scenarios as the computer version.

What patients/providers would benefit from this App?

Students, residents, mid-levels, primary care, pediatricians, emergency medicine or any healthcare provider who is interested in a game to improve their resuscitation skills on PALS scenarios.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

  • Price
    • Free, but includes one scenario only. $3.99 for 7 additional scenarios for iOS/Android. $69.00 for Mac/Windows (allows for development of scenarios and includes all 8 scenarios).
    • Written by medical expert with critical care and computer background.
    • Uses current 2015 AHA PALS guidelines.
    • Helpful “What Now?” and Debrief functions.   
    • Available for Android.
  • Dislikes
    • Font small in some sections of the app and no landscape view makes screen crowded.
    • Only one scenario included on free version; but reasonable price for all 8 scenarios.
    • Can be confusing as to what can/can’t be done at certain steps.
    • No landscape view.
  • Overall

    PALS Simulator 2016 is a great addition to the app store as a quality resuscitation simulator. The app has expert input and follows the current PALS guidelines. The app would be improved with more available scenarios and some fine-tuning of the user interface.

  • Overall Score
  • User Interface

    Interface feels cramped and some tasks/options are not well-explained or intuitive, but app includes helpful “What Now” function to guide those who get “stuck” on a step.

  • Multimedia Usage

    Realistic simulations in “real-time” makes for a game-like feel.

  • Price

    Price for iOS/Android is free for one scenario with an in-app purchase of $3.99 for all 8 scenarios whereas the Mac/Windows version is considerably more at $69, but does allow the user to develop their own apps (not evaluated in this review).

  • Real World Applicability

    PALS Sim 2016 follows on the heels of its sibling app, ACLS Sim 2016. Both are excellent alternatives to other simulation based apps currently available. The app takes some getting used to, but with practice, it may sharpen skills and perhaps improve patient outcomes. The app should be considered by anyone who may run pediatric codes or plans to take or recertify in PALS.

  • Device Used For Review

    iPhone 6S running iOS 10.1.1

  • Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad