Gamifying Health and Wellness

I recently read an article from HIMMS Media Future Care Group on the use gaming technologies as therapy for a variety of conditions, including pain management, depression and traumatic brain injuries. After doing some research on trends in the use of games in healthcare delivery, I found that although they are hardly a mainstay in clinical treatment, it is a growing field that seeks to combine healthcare delivery, technology and incentivized patient involvement. According to a 2012 report Innovations in Games: Better Health and Healthcare summary, there are many benefits to use of games in healthcare, including:

  • Monitoring a patient’s progress and vitals, especially if there is a way to link game progress to EHR data
  • Creating achievable, gratifying goals to encourage positive activities. Reaching the next level of a game can be immensely  satisfying and motivating, after all
  • Enhancing diagnostic abilities by using games that can measure physical states
  • Learning in clinical settings facilitated by simulation games
  • Making recovery or treatment more social; social support through interaction with other player

Another notable trend  in use of gaming technologies is there are applications for treatment of many different types of conditions. In the past two years, there have been studies on use of games as treatment for people suffering from vertigo, Parkinson’s disease, recovering stroke victims, and several others. Preliminary studies seem to be finding that, at the very least, there’s a great deal of potential to be explore, and much fun to be had.

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