E-Health with games: A road less taken

The recent scenario of gaming has moved a little from just mainstream multiplayer games to ‘gamification’. It is somewhat a new approach towards typically traditional methods of completing monotonous or unappealing yet extremely vital tasks.
E-Health with games: A road less taken

The recent scenario of gaming has moved a little from just mainstream multiplayer games to ‘gamification’. It is somewhat a new approach towards typically traditional methods of completing monotonous or unappealing yet extremely vital tasks.

A good example of applying gamification to non-game based scenario would be that of cybersecurity training, done in order to make the exercise (which is usually a long and tedious activity) a tad more fun and engaging. It also provides cognitive benefits and positive motivation. As it seems clear in the aforementioned example, the applications are vast, from Education to Businesses, Dev-Ops to Marketing, everything seems to be gamified.

Contrary to this, Healthcare is somewhat not on the train right now, but it seems to finally be ready to board it. A recent chain of events has shown that even digital healthcare or e-Healthcare is exploiting the advantages of gamification now as robustly as its other competitive counterparts. This rapid growth has delivered amazing results that are both astonishing and impressive.

Studies have shown that gamification and ‘serious games’ in contexts of health, fitness, and diagnosis have led to positive strides towards healing and betterment of physical and psychological fitness as well as rehabilitation of chronic diseases.

The issue here remains that these case studies are somewhat isolated and there is truly no empirical proof as to what extent gamification actually contributes to the overall progress of the patient’s health. Nevertheless, this field of gamifying e-Health services is catching a lot of mainstream attention now.

To present you a perspective, e-Health or Electronic Health is a domain of technology and science that engineers solutions pertaining to impact the physical health, diet patterns or mental health. This however is best achieved by one of its most famous and in practice tools: e-Intervention which simply refers to diagnosis, prescription, treatment, management and most importantly promotion of wellness of body and mind –but, here is the twist – without the help or presence of a human at all. This also, obviously, leads to a better lifestyle by people who adopt better health practices resulting in the reduction of chances of diseases or disorders.

The most successful players of the e-Intervention circle are basically health-centric games. This is simply due to the effectiveness, attraction and the incentive of entertainment and fun facilitated to the users to finally acquire skills and the basic knowledge to lead a more healthy life and avoid problems related to their well-being.

This method, however, has been here for almost three and half-decades, having been first invented and introduced by a company called JoyBoard in 1982. JoyBoard used to offer services to institutions pertaining to multiple domains like fitness, sports, and academic support and even nutritional and disease care.

Healthcare for Kids 

One of the most important outcomes of gamification of e-Healthcare is that children who are usually harder to cater to regarding good habits and methods learn fast and well with the help of these games. Today kids’ games that teach them to have a healthier and balanced diet, maintain hygiene and perform more physical activities are one of the most dominant forces in the gaming industry. mySugr, an Austrian startup, has effectively solved this problem by offering gamified solutions for diabetes management in a fun, interactive manner for kids and adults alike. Having gained over a million registered users, mySugr has gone on to be acquired by Roche, the global pharma giant.

Another great breakthrough of gamification in healthcare has been in the context of cancer-related applications for children. These apps have demonstrated how to provide motivation and empowerment to such kids. Moreover, many other games provide help to find obesity, childhood diabetes, and even depression.

Health on the go 

It is seen that the basic benefits of the health-related games or the gamification of health and fitness-related applications consist of progressive changes in healthy habits and practices, promotion of proper diet, disease diagnosis and disease prevention, treatment and most importantly spreading of awareness of diseases and risk factors. It is aimed at improving the quality of life.

Talking about categories, ‘health-centric games’ are a subcategory of a more vast ‘serious games’ category which aims to foster engagement, excitement and primarily, fun, into the domains of the likes of education, healthcare, science, and even defence.

The reason for its success along with similar or dissimilar health applications is because of the power it provides to the user that they can access healthcare on the go. As wearables are getting smaller and smaller and more ubiquitous with the ticking off the clock, this space of serious health games will explode to provide real-time health data and benefits, a sphere still not exploited well enough.

Corporate Wellness 

Another example is that of promotion and rehabilitation of corporate wellness, where usual game mechanics are employed to achieve points, and rewards and leader board based competitions lend the motivation to employees to adopt healthy practices and be as productive as possible for the company.

This also is done usually with conjunction activity trackers. Also as hardware solutions are improving rapidly, mobile health is becoming more of a reality as opposed to a pipe dream. Many of the ‘exergames’ or basically games pertaining to physical exercises or workouts performed by humans are now possible due to the advent of wearables.

A rising star in the field of e-healthcare, Fitbit, understands this sophisticated mesh of gamification and health quite well. Which is why in 2016 the tech company announced robust partnerships with employers and corporations to track and monitor employee habits using their raw data – via competitions, rewards and community participation. Needless to say, it has proved successful in offering a win-win solution to both employers and employees.

Power to the patients 

In the earlier days, patients treated healthcare specialist as Gods and hence followed each and every instruction with diligence; this trend however, is coming to an end. In the 21st century, especially in the last half-decade, people want to have a say and increasingly be involved in how their health is mapped out. This has gone on to demand that the doctor-patient relationship be of equal stature. This goes on to say that now, they want motivation rather than just sympathy or compliance.

Digital Healthcare will soon see that gamification of their custom healthcare software development services will be useful to keep the health freaks (and patients alike) motivated via challenges, rewards and/or community engagement – all made possible through gamification in healthcare. The burden and boredom over repeated steps of health care is to be over now – as people gear up toward more focused attention, more mind and body resilience and a deep-rooted behavioural change towards health and fitness – all, done willingly.