A conference session at Health 2.0 titled “Gaming and Health 2.0” considered how the gaming industry is assuming a growing role in healthcare. Stefan Armstrong, the moderator of the event and HCP Marketing partner, explained that gaming is effective at “aligning incentives.”
Incentives, of course, are deeply embedded in everything we do as humans. (Just ask an economist). So it makes sense of to take advantage of them in a healthcare setting to help achieve goals such as improving patient compliance with treatment regimens. “Gaming is part of what it means to be human,” said Doug Goldstein, CEO of iConecto at the conference. “That’s part of why it’s so addictive.”
So, why not use gaming to help make healthcare treatments something they like to do rather than somthing they should do?
A recent example of a game that seeks to do just that is PE Interactive
; the platform was developed to help children diagnosed with cancer with their treatment. It was developed by Microsoft XNA and makes use of Sony’s PS3 Move motion controller. The inspiration for the software came when Grzegorz Bulaj, a professor at the University of Utah observed an 8-year-old cancer patient using an incentive spirometer. Bulaj told Develop
that the device was “nothing more than a game that encourages activity to help healing."
Earlier this year, we covered another example of a video game
developed to help children with their treatment. In that article, editor Thomas Blair asks “Can you imagine patients at a children's hospital squealing, ‘Whee!’ when prompted to undergo a round of physical therapy or diagnostic testing?”
From what I gathered at the conference, that’s the hope of some developers. For instance, Sean Baenen, the CEO of a company called SuperBetter recounted at the event that he personally used gaming for a healthcare application. Baenen had suffered a concussion two weeks prior to the event; he is still dealing with post-concussive syndrome. To deal with that, Baenen built a platform to help him recuperate. In the game, he assumes an avatar named “Sean the Concussion Slayer.” Doing so helps the users “to give themselves the permission to get better,” he said. And, over time, patients (or doctors) can use such platforms to gather data to track how effective patients are complying with treatment instructions. When someone in the audience asked “how to keep people honest”? Baenen explained: “The game is built instrinsically; if you cheat, you cheat yourself.”
*Image from literatigamereviews.com (Banana Pepper Martinis)