Medical video game maker Level Ex acquired by surgical technology company Brainlab

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story indicated that Brainlab was based in Berlin rather than Munich.

Level Ex, a Chicago-based startup that makes medical training video games for doctors, has been acquired by Munich-based medical technology company Brainlab, the companies said today.

The companies did not disclose the terms of their deal, although Level Ex CEO Sam Glassenberg said MobiHealthNews that his company would continue to operate under the new owner as an independent entity.

“We’re a bunch of game developers who have been parachuted into the healthcare industry, and we’re constantly seeing technology that’s, say, two decades behind what we do in the entertainment industry. “, did he declare. “Brainlab is the exception. If you go into their offices and see their technology, it’s incredibly forward-looking. And not just in terms of the amazing 3D graphics and rendering technology, but the integration of all tools into a seamless digital experience in the operating room. “

Level Ex offers a handful of mobile video games that challenge doctors with hypothetical cases or procedures in different medical specialties, such as interventional cardiology. These scenarios are designed to refresh players’ knowledge or help them become familiar with the use of a new medical device and in some cases may provide continuing medical education (CME) credits upon completion. Level Ex funds the development of these games through agreements with pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, in which customers’ specific devices and treatments are featured in the game.

Brainlab is a company of approximately 1,400 people that focuses on a range of hardware and software technologies for cranial, spinal, trauma, orthopedic, otolaryngology and craniomaxillofacial surgeries. Glassenberg said Level Ex has had a relationship with the company for years, through a project involving the game maker’s graphics rendering technology, and he is very excited about Brainlab’s work on new emerging software technologies.

“You know how well neurosurgery and brain surgery has a reputation for being sort of at the forefront of medicine? It’s Brainlab. It’s amazing,” he said. “They’re at the forefront of digital transformation in medicine – fully digital operating rooms, trajectory planning, where you can overlay 3D volumetric MRI data and ultrasound data, and everything. first to jump on augmented reality for use in the operating room. “


First and foremost, Glassenberg described the acquisition as a chance for his startup to grow its business. The German company gives Level Ex the opportunity to pursue international clients and establish immediate business relationships with existing Brainlab partners in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and life sciences.

“Right now, we are already working with six of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies and a number of the top 10 medical device companies… to help disseminate best practices and accelerate adoption of their products,” he said. -he declares. “Being part of Brainlab only accelerates that and accelerates our growth. “

At the same time, Glassenberg said his team’s game design expertise would also have a role to play in advancing Brainlab’s various digital products.

“They have a digital operating room where different medical devices can fit together so that they can be tracked. So inside the operating room you can see where the device is at. interior of the patient by looking at the imagery.For us, we can use our video game technology and video game design to not only help physicians learn about these devices and understand how to use them, but also develop their skills. skills on a virtual patient. “


The news comes just weeks after another medical game maker, digital therapy company Akili Interactive, received its long-awaited De Novo clearance for EndeavorRx. And while Level Ex’s video games have quite unique purposes – training physicians in treating pediatric ADHD symptoms – Glassenberg said the licensing and acquisition of his business signaled growing recognition of the role of pediatric ADHD. video games in the industry.

“It really shows that the game in healthcare is no longer theoretical,” he said. “Here we have real solutions that will have long-term impacts on the health ecosystem.”

Ahead of these developments, Level Ex released free additions to two of its breathing-focused games, which were designed to help providers prepare for difficult COVID-19 patient scenarios. Glassenberg said they have so far received “incredibly inspiring” comments from medical players.

The company also has an ongoing project with the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine that focuses on creating virtual simulations of how routine medical procedures can be changed in low severity. .

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