Gamification in healthcare: new trends and future possibilities

April 28, 2022

The benefits of gamification in the healthcare industry have become a significant technological trend. Like all technology implemented in healthcare, the main goal is to improve patient conditions and statistics. This practice incorporates game dynamics that help both.

Gaming strategy has been implemented in hospitals and healthcare centers to prevent diseases and improve patient conditions. As a learning method, gamification can be motivating, and as an educational agent, it has proven to be more effective than conventional methods. 

Healthcare has used gamification for years, but why has it gained more prominence now? The Covid-19 health crisis revealed shortcomings in the health sector. Due to limited capacity during the pandemic, crowded hospitals made it difficult to treat chronic patients and patients with mental health problems. Gamification introduced solutions to these problems that, once implemented, would change the healthcare system. 

The benefits for patients

Gaming techniques end unnecessary hospital visits, treating those chronic or already diagnosed patients remotely. Additionally, thanks to virtual reality solutions, patients can more efficiently combat chronic diseases and mental health problems and prevent future diseases through stimulation.

Gamification also helps patients fight their diseases in new and different ways. These games help them improve their self-sufficiency and self-confidence and motivate them to resist the disease. Those with mobility limitations can find virtual reality solutions, perform rehabilitations more dynamically, and reduce stress.

One of the main reasons for using these mechanisms is that they improve patients’ lifestyles, helping them adopt a healthier lifestyle through exercise and diet. They help improve mental health, too, since these games generate well-being in the patient’s mind and offer them the possibility of interacting socially. The player’s emotions and stress are monitored and can trigger a more detailed follow-up if needed.

Healthcare professionals, in turn, make use of these tools for the diagnosis of certain diseases and treatment compliance. Thanks to augmented reality, health professionals can examine patients’ symptoms more thoroughly, having 3D designs at their disposal or being able to simulate surgical methodologies before interventions. 

In addition, through these designs, professionals can learn how the body responds to certain stimuli or medications. Video games motivate patients by offering challenges, facilitating rehabilitation without the professional having to be in front of them, and helping with medication reminders. All of this offers significant improvements in the care of chronically ill patients.

Another variety of games aims to enhance certain brain regions and help slow down cognitive decline. This type of game is significant for those with neurodegenerative diseases or elderly patients who wish to stimulate their brains to deal with senile dementia.

The benefits for healthcare professionals

The benefits of gamification go beyond the patient, though. Gamification also helps to improve the educational and training systems of healthcare personnel exponentially and allows for more comprehensive evaluations and better monitoring of patients. 

On the one hand, gaming helps health professionals to immerse themselves in the technological world and become familiar with these applications in the face of a hybrid future in health. On the other hand, a gamification strategy positively affects healthcare workers’ learning and continuous training. 

Acquiring new knowledge or recalling information previously learned is much more dynamic if it is done based on games that recreate training courses or degrees. These video games are also a source of motivation since healthcare workers receive constant challenges that increase competitiveness through a system of prizes and rewards.

Another application it has is to train specific skills. Video games can simulate real situations in a hospital or emergencies. In these scenarios, the user has to offer answers or solutions to the problems in a risk-free environment. 

Thanks to these applications, healthcare professionals can have access to a greater amount of resources, offering the opportunity for healthcare professionals to tackle cases that are rare or that they have not experienced before. With staff upskilling without investing significant resources, healthcare systems could increase their number of doctors and nurses.

Gamification in health is also a way for professionals to improve how they follow up with their patients. Video games allow healthcare professionals to monitor and check statistics or data for their patients, ensuring they carry out their treatments. It also offers support services and care for patients with any doubt that may arise without scheduling an appointment.

Improving patient care and follow-up through playful techniques is a significant advance, especially after the global pandemic and the “new normal” that has reduced hospital capacity. Gamification aims to reduce the number of times that the patient needs to go in person to a health center, benefiting healthcare operations worldwide.

Examples of gamification in healthcare 

There are already some applications in the market for patients and healthcare professionals aimed at improving the healthcare system:

Gaming for patients

  • MangoHealth: reminds patients when to take their medication by rewarding compliance 
  • Bant or MySugr: aimed at patients with diabetes by controlling their intake and calculating their insulin dose
  • Fitbit or StepApp Pedometer: this application seeks to improve patients’ physical conditions, recording steps and distances traveled.
  • GoalPost, Quit Smoking Now, QuitNow! or Kwit: helps users quit smoking by setting motivating challenges and recording improvements.

Gaming for medical staff

  • SalusPlay: offers master’s degrees and courses for healthcare personnel
  • Night Shift: simulation of an emergency room to reduce diagnostic errors
  • TriviFarma: trivia for healthcare personnel to improve pharmacology knowledge 
  • Organ Helicopter: this application involves answering questions while transporting an organ to the heliport to be transplanted.

The emergence of all these techniques and gaming applications will revolutionize the healthcare sector in the coming years, so that companies that begin to implement this new technology will have a competitive advantage over the rest.

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The Healthcare & Life Sciences Studio aims to reinvent the life sciences industry ecosystem through tangible technology-driven solutions. Globant aims to bridge the gap to help life sciences and healthcare organizations to achieve their mission of delivering innovation and services faster and more efficiently to enhance patient value and improve outcomes.