Gamifying Healthcare

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She suffered a debilitating concussion. It affected her sleep, eating and her social life. Doctors, resting, medication, nothing seemed to work until she decided to play through her concussion! Jane McGonigal created a concussion recovery game based on completion of small challenges. The game, SuperBetter, has today helped 250000 people recover from their problems of anxiety, chronic pain and traumatic brain injuries. Clinical trials suggest the game could be more effective than drugs in alleviating some symptoms of depression. Gamification in healthcare seems to be running faster than treadmills, though gamification as a word may have received a backlash in the healthcare circles. Examples like Massive Health, Ginger.io, SuperBetter, Fitocracy, Zombies Run are making an impact in the wellness management.

Can Gamification improve disease management?
Gamification solutions are helping patients understand the disease, alleviate pain, cope with the disease and improve adherence. If not made trivial by unscrupulous marketers, engaging patients in positive play can be of help in managing several diseases.

Diabetes:
There are companies like Game Metrix Solution that are inventing entertaining platforms with the goal of managing the disease. University of Health Network of Toronto uses mobile app Bant1 to improve adherence in diabetic adolescents. Omada2 is another health start up app that is targeting people with pre diabetes. Where adherence is a ballooning issue in NCDs (non communicable diseases) meaningful rewards through games could help tackle the issue.

Severe Burns:
To alleviate pain in severe burns cases, the University of Washington has helped develop a game called SnowWorld3. Sam Brown, a West Point grad who suffered extensive burns while serving in Afghanistan found some temporary relief from the overwhelming pain in a virtual reality game called SnowWorld. In SnowWorld, patients play what is basically a first-person shooter with snowballs, while “You Can Call Me Al” plays in the background. “The game play was like a white noise that canceled out the pain. Time spent thinking about pain, which is an inextricable contributor to actual pain, dropped from 76 percent without SnowWorld to 22 percent with SnowWorld.”

Autism:
Children with autism show pronounced impairment in face recognition. Elizabeth Whyte, a researcher in Developmental Neurosciences at Penn State has created a game where autistic patients are detectives for a bank robbery. They have to correctly identify the facial expressions of potential suspects.

Stroke:
Nintendo Wii4 platform is being used to rehabilitate stroke victims.

Knowing Pharma
Boehringer is creating a FB game to teach people about the Pharma industry. The game is called Syrum5.
When it comes to patient behaviors, lifestyle modifications, complying with treatments, adherence to medications; gamification does offer a compelling, entertaining and innovative way to improve overall patient outcomes. Like Michael Jordan says, Just Play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.
Do we have a potential winner here?

Rashmi Thosar

References:
http://www.bantapp.com/
http://omadahealth.com/
http://www.hitl.washington.edu/projects/vrpain/

http://www.syrum-game.com/