The healthcare industry is continuously evolving and innovative approaches are needed to address its challenges. Gamification, the integration of game-like elements in non-game contexts, offers immense potential to transform medical devices and healthcare.
This article explores the benefits of gamification in the healthcare industry and provides tips on how to improve patient engagement, access to care, and quality of care.
Gamification significantly enhances patient engagement by using game mechanics to promote desired behaviours. Patients who engage with gamified solutions for disease management, such as diabetes or blood pressure, demonstrate improved adherence to treatment plans. Games can help patients better understand their conditions, make healthier choices regarding diet and exercise, and actively participate in their own care.
The overall quality of care provided by healthcare providers is positively impacted using gaming mechanisms and methods. Through the gamification of health-related tasks, healthcare professionals can inspire patients to make healthier choices leading to improved health outcomes. Participating in their care and being motivated through game-like elements, patients can experience higher-quality care and achieve their health goals.
Gamification can also enhance access to care by encouraging patients to seek out and utilize healthcare services. Games that promote healthy behaviors help patients better understand their conditions and encourage them to schedule appointments with healthcare providers. By increasing patient understanding and motivation, gamification promotes proactive healthcare-seeking behavior.
Another advantage of gamification is its potential to reduce healthcare costs. By encouraging healthy behaviors through games, healthcare providers can minimize the number of office visits and hospitalizations. For instance, patients who utilize gamified solutions for managing chronic conditions like diabetes have shown a decrease in emergency room visits. Engagement and self-management facilitated by these games help patients better control their conditions, avoiding complications that may require costly interventions.
Here are four tips for implementing gamification strategies into medical devices or services:
Achievement-Based Rewards System: Create a reward system within the app that encourages patients to take their medications consistently and on time. The app can provide a series of achievements or milestones for completing medication tasks successfully. For example, a user can earn badges or points for taking medications at the right time for a consecutive number of days or weeks. These achievements could be displayed on a leaderboard to foster a sense of competition or shared on social media platforms. Additionally, users can unlock virtual rewards, such as in-app items or discounts on health-related products or services. By incorporating a gamified approach with tangible rewards, the app can motivate patients to adhere to their medication schedule.
Image Credit: Fitbit.com
Fitbit embraces the power of gamification to transform the way users approach their fitness goals. Through a seamless integration of innovative challenges, personalized achievements, and interactive rewards, Fitbit makes every step of the journey towards a healthier lifestyle an engaging and rewarding adventure. Users can compete with friends and family, earn badges for hitting milestones, and participate in daily and weekly challenges to stay motivated and committed. As they unlock achievements and accumulate points, they not only strengthen their physical well-being but also enjoy a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie within the Fitbit community. With gamification at its core, Fitbit inspires users to push their boundaries, sustain healthy habits, and experience the thrill of progress every day.
Image Credit: Fitbit.com
Virtual Pet or Plant Care: Consider an application around the concept of taking care of a virtual pet or plant that thrives on medication adherence. Users can create and personalize their virtual pet or plant within the app. The pet or plant’s health and well-being will be directly influenced by the user’s medication adherence. Users can earn points or virtual currency by taking their medications on time, and these points can be used to feed, groom, or water their virtual companion. If the user consistently adheres to their medication schedule, their plant or pet will grow healthier and happier, unlocking additional customization options or new levels of interaction. This approach provides a nurturing and interactive experience, making the medication adherence process more enjoyable and engaging.
Social Accountability and Support: Introduce social elements to the app to leverage peer support and accountability. Users can connect and form communities within the app, allowing them to share their medication adherence progress, challenges, and achievements with others. The app can facilitate communication and collaboration by enabling users to cheer each other on, send reminders or encouraging messages, or engage in friendly competitions. Additionally, users can create or join medication adherence challenges with their peers, earning rewards or points based on their collective adherence. By incorporating social features, the app creates a supportive environment that fosters motivation and a sense of community. A good example is the Bayer Didget blood glucose meter device featured below.
Progression and Storyline: Design a mobile (tablet or smartphone) app with a progression-based structure and storyline to make the medication adherence journey more engaging. Users can embark on a virtual quest or adventure where their medication adherence is tied to the progression of the story. As users adhere to their medication schedule, they unlock new chapters, levels, or elements of the narrative. The storyline can be presented through interactive storytelling, animated visuals, or audio narration. Along the way, users may encounter challenges or puzzles related to their medications that they must solve to advance. By infusing the app with an immersive storyline, users are motivated to adhere to their medication routine to uncover the next part of the story.
Bayer’s Didget blood glucose meter was designed in 2010 intended for kids. It connects to a Nintendo DS gaming system. The device encourages patient’s adherence by rewarding the users for consistent blood glucose checks. As points accumulate, new game levels and options unlock. There are leader boards with kids who collected the most points, web games and an online community as well. View a video created by the mom of an actual Didget user.
Photo Credit: Bayer
The benefits of gamification in the healthcare industry are far-reaching with the potential for great impact. Healthcare providers can leverage gamification to address challenges such as low patient engagement and high healthcare costs, leading to improved outcomes for both providers and patients. Embracing gamification is a vital step in transforming healthcare delivery and enhancing the overall patient experience. Whether you’re a healthcare provider or a patient, it’s time to explore the possibilities and embrace the power of gamification in medical devices and healthcare.
Rodolfo Prata is a Senior UX Designer at StarFish Medical. Rodolfo studied Multimedia Design at Senac University (Brazil) and User Experience (UX) Design at the University of Toronto. Rodolfo is highly passionate about UX Design, always seeking innovative ways to improve user interactions for devices and services.