Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Seven Things You Need to Know About The Overt Fun and Covert Benefit of Health Gamification

Channeling all this energy for
health and wellness?
The networked Population Health Blog got an alert about this just-published article on the "gamification" of health from the Games for Health Journal

The PHB was only vaguely aware of the growing medical literature that uses humans' love of gaming to promote healthy behaviors, increase prevention and mitigate chronic disease.  And it certainly wasn't aware that there was a entire journal dedicated to the topic.

In this particular article, author Brian Landwehr introduced the PHB to the term "gamification." Using "overt" fun to achieve "covert" benefit, gameplay is combined with virtual or real rewards to engage patients in behavior change. 

Examples include using:

~ videogaming, wireless mats, smartcards and monitors to increase and reward physical activity in children;

~ email/text to remind expectant mothers about appointments and healthy behaviors that are paired with incentives such as gift cards, baby toys and health and safety gear;

~ mobile health apps that track exercise and nutrition choices to earn discounts on merchandise.

What seven things did the PHB learn after reading the manuscript? 

The technology is

1) in its infancy, but it's already being launched in settings that involve thousands of people;

3) utterly scalable, since it can be offered today to entire school districts or fully-insured books of business;

3) very modular, using a surprising amount of "off the shelf" technology that are adapted and combined to build "prototype" products

4) creates products that can also quickly become obsolete thanks to the creation of better and cheaper replacement prototypes;

5) very entrepreneurial, which is one of the drivers behind gamification's surprising growth

6) substitutive when it replaces in-person education, or synergistic when paired with live health coaches

7)  cool because "gamification" is innovation jargon that the PHB cognoscenti can use in meetings and emails to impress their colleagues and stymie their opponents.

Image from Wikipedia

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