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Gamification and the healthcare industry

Posted in Healthcare

Last Updated | August 22, 2022

Overview: What is digital health care gamification?

Gamification simply means, applying gaming tools to non-gaming environments such as learning systems, websites, and businesses. The main aim of gamification is to increase the engagement and participation of the users in the process and business. Similarly, digital health care gamification means applying gaming techniques, principles, and mechanisms to healthcare environments, in order to improve clinical outcomes. 

Gamification is primarily utilized in health and wellness applications dealing with disease prevention, self-management, medication adherence, and telehealth programs. The core of health care gamification is very patient-centric as it aims to improve patient engagement by making their experience more personalized.

Patients can take part in different challenges and earn multiple badges as rewards. In some healthcare apps, they can compete with themselves by challenging personal goals while in others they can also compete against other patients. By competing in different challenges and achieving goals, patients are more motivated and involved in their health care activities.

Most of the best healthcare mobile app development companies aim to incorporate gamification design in their wellbeing and digital help monitoring apps. The major aim of these apps is to enhance patient engagement and create more health data that can be used in personalized health plans. Fitbit, Apple, and Android watches are some of the wearable healthcare devices that use gamification efficiently for wellness and fitness purposes.

In most health care and well-being applications, gamification can be seen used as:

  •  Progression reports through different bars and charts to measure success. They invoke the progress-related psychological tendencies among the users.
  •  Sharing of progress and achievements with friends and other users. This creates a sense of competition among the users and compels them to be more aware of their health-related goals.
  • Offering progress badges, medals, stars, or any other virtual gifts at the completion of a goal. These gaming features fill the users with a sense of achievement.

Some of the more developed gamified healthcare apps also include specific exercises for people with movement impairments, older people, or people suffering from back pain. Gamification does not benefit the users alone but healthcare providers too. While users enjoy their more personalized healthcare experience, health providers increase user satisfaction with their apps or brands in general by increasing engagement. 

That in turn, draws more users and also increases customer retention so, it is a win-win situation for both parties. While building new health habits might feel like a difficult task, it can be made easier through the right incentives and applying the philosophy of instant action and gratification. And that is exactly what gamification in health care provides.

Healthcare gamification market

The increasing demand and adoption of technology throughout the world have caused the healthcare gamification market to grow exponentially in recent years.  The global healthcare gamification market is expected to exceed $47,281.5 million by 2026 with a CAGR of 11.9% during the forecasted period.

The rising digitalization of the world and more inclination towards technological advancements has been the major driving factors for the growth of the market. The increasing availability of smartphones enables easy access to healthcare and well-being apps, which in turn helps in the overall market growth.

Unlike many other telemedicine software costs, which are very high, most health care and well-being apps cost nothing causing the software to experience positive market growth and high usage preferences. Based on the game type, the casual game sub-segment of the global healthcare gamification market is anticipated to have the greatest share of the market growth with a CAGR of 10.2% during the projected time. 

The growing number of health and fitness-conscious people and the increase in the usage of fitness healthcare applications is the major reason for this growth. The healthcare gamification market of the Asia Pacific region is projected to have the largest share during a forecasted time period. This is because of the large population in the region and the absence of good healthcare facilities.

All in all, the increased adaptability of technology in the healthcare sector has been driving the growth of the healthcare gamification market too. And in the coming years, this market is only expected to grow more as more people are inclining toward using healthcare technology.

Gamification in healthcare examples

If you measure your daily step count or document the number of calories you take a day, you are already using gamification for the betterment of your health.  Many medical software development companies are providing users with different sorts of gamified healthcare apps, aiming to improve their health care issues. These gamified apps make users motivated for their health care goals rather than making them addicted. 

There are some good examples of such apps that provide motivation, rewards, and increase commitment in their users. Some of the most prominent ones are discussed here.

  • Self-management Medication and chronic condition Apps 

Mango Health is one such application that encourages patients to take their medication on time. It also informs patients about the different side effects of the drugs. Another app, Manage My Pain, enables patients to track and document the location of pain in their bodies and also suggests ways to combat the pain.

  • Fitness and Nutrition Apps 

The health app provided by Apple is possibly the most used fitness application. It allows users to track their sleep, heart rate, hydration, and calorie count. MyFitnessPal is a nutritional app that helps users to record their daily calorie intake and better manage their weight. Want to know how to create an Apple watch app?

  • Emotional health Apps 

Loóna is one such app that helps its users relax after a long stressful day by attempting to create the right environment for a good sleep. Happify app has science-based activities for its users which improve their emotional wellbeing.

  • Healthcare Apps for kids

My PlayHome Hospital app coaxes children to be more willing for hospital visits. MyTeeth application helps kids of age 1 to 9 to better brush their teeth with proper technique and time limit.

Gamification in health care training

Along with providing various benefits to patients, gamification also helps with training healthcare staff.  Many healthcare compliance consulting companies are assisting their staff to train better through the integration of health care applications that have gaming features.

Information and skills are acquired better when the learner feels emotionally connected with the learning. Gamification does just that by providing different storylines, characters, achievement badges and leader boards. Moreover, gamification also helps the users learn from their mistakes in a virtual world rather than the real one. For instance, a surgeon could practice performing surgeries in-game without having the fear of causing the accidental deaths of real people. Most healthcare training involves a lot of memorization of different symptoms, diseases and treatments, which can get boring. Through gamified learning courses, this knowledge is made simple and easy to retain.

Gamification also enables healthcare learners to track their progress better and also have timely feedback. By completing different levels, learners get a sense of accomplishment and the impression that they are moving forward with their learning process.

Benefits of gamification in healthcare

Many healthcare compliance companies are providing gamified health apps that not only have user-friendly UI designs in health care, but have both HL7&FHIR features which make them more useful for both patients and physicians. Some of the more prominent advantages of healthcare gamification are discussed below.

  • More patient data

Through gamified health apps, a large amount of relevant patient data is collected. Patients are also encouraged to give personalized feedback which in turn helps with finding new trends to develop better products. However, to secure this data healthcare companies use HIPAA compliance for software development and also go through HIPAA compliance audit services to ensure safety.

  • Better education programs 

According to a study, physicians who used gamified online tools for learning showed better results than their peers who used traditional learning tools. For healthcare companies, gamification brought about more patient outcomes and trust, as well as increased productivity of employees while reducing the cost of training programs.

  • Improved physical therapy 

The risk of cardiovascular diseases is reduced significantly through exercise, especially in wheelchair users. Healthcare gamified apps are also used in physical therapy with the addition of therapeutic tools to build a better therapeutic setting for the patients. These games not only improve health but also result in more patient satisfaction by providing them with right gaming tools for the therapy.

  • Improved health of employees 

Employees of a healthcare company can be made more efficient and healthier through the implementation of a company wellness program. Through different healthcare apps and HL7 messages sharing, healthcare companies can have a better idea of their employees’ health.  These gamified health apps enable employees to better track their health goals and also share them with their peers. In this way, gamification helps employees to develop more healthy habits and increase their productivity and in turn, increase the company productivity.

Gamification in Healthcare Apps

Many healthcare applications enable patients to manage their health issues better and also help them to be more autonomous through self-assessments and remote care solutions. Some of these healthcare companies not only provide the best examples of excellent customer service in healthcare, but also easily accessible health solutions.

But with rising competition, health companies need to deliver more features to enhance user engagement and attention, and that’s where gamification helps by adding more fun to the apps.

These gamified healthcare apps not only add more fun to the apps but also make them more user-centric, increase user attention and modify their behaviour to improve health outcomes.

That’s why different telemedicine software development companies and health app development companies try to include the following gaming features in their apps:

  • Reward badges

To give users a sense of achievement and to motivate them to keep up with their health goals, different reward badges and awards are featured in the health care applications. These badges also enable the users to set milestones for themselves and challenge their selves more regarding health-oriented goals.

  • Reward Points

After completing a particular task or level users are rewarded with certain in-game points. These reward points help with the perceived value of performance and also give visual proof of progression. Moreover, these reward points can be exchanged for other in-game benefits.

  • Leaderboards

Leaderboards help with the sense of competitiveness among the users. Users can share their progress with their friends and other users and can also see their progress on leader boards.

Gamification in Pharma

Today, many marketers are seeking to employ gaming tools in their businesses to boost consumer engagement, and pharmaceutical companies are no exception. Pharma companies use gaming mechanisms to increase marketing efforts, by focusing on making patients active, educated and engaged during the period of their care. All these efforts ultimately incite a positive business impact and an improvement in patient outcomes.

As a pharma sales representative, you need to be at the top of your game, in order to successfully promote medication. So, many pharmaceutical companies are also using gaming tools to help their employees train better. Called Detective is one such pharma-focused game provided by The Game Agency’s Training Arcade. This game helps pharma companies train reps better, attract new employees and increase information about new products.

Trivia and Match 3 are some of the other pharma games that focus more on the training-related content and questions rather than the traditional sports trivia or ancient history questions. Moreover, some Pharma companies use gamification to onboard new reps, brand managers, and district managers. Instead of providing them with the usual working tasks, these reps can do the work through different gamification tasks. These gaming tools improve engagement as well as their ability to retain and recall. To take advantage of gamification in pharma more, pharma companies need to take more time to engage with patients and understand their needs first.

Also, they need to understand more about how to apply the perfect game mechanics that suit the patient’s needs more. If companies are willing to slow down and invest in creating customized patient-centred gamified tools, then there are higher chances for innovative and successful behavioural changes.

Trends in healthcare gamification

The health care gamification market is projected to grow at commendable rates, owing to the increased use of smartphones and consequently higher usage of health care applications. 

By transforming their business models from volume-based to value-based approaches, many healthcare companies have consequently caused the growth of the healthcare gamification industry. 

Many healthcare gamified apps have been gaining popularity in recent years, some of which are discussed below:

  • Nutrition and Fitness Apps

Globally the concern of obesity has been increasing therefore, the usage of healthcare apps that provide the users the ability to monitor their nutrition and weight have been popular. HealthMonth is a currently popular app that claims to assist in achieving significant improvement in health behaviour once a month. HealthMonth uses nutrition science with behavioral change social gaming tools.

  • Emotional, Mental and behavioural health Apps

Gamification of health apps not only helps with keeping a healthy body but also a healthy mind. There are many emotional and cognitive areas that can benefit from different gaming tools. For example, BellyBio, brainstormed by RelaxLine, is a prominent name in the health care gamification industry that works on bio-feedback to help users release anxiety through ocean sounds and deep breathing exercises.

  • Simulation Apps

Simulation health games are being used to improve physicians’ and medical researchers’ technical knowledge of different monitoring and medical procedures. Moreover, more immersive simulations are used to improve patients’ health by making them visualise the health-related behavioural consequences.

  • Telehealth

The increasing adoption of technology in health care has risen the use of telehealth too. The number of hospitals which use Epic software along with other EHR devices integration has increased considerably in recent years. An assessment of the the 10 components of medical record in a hospital, proves that telehealth helps with a more efficient set-up too.

Leveraging gaming principles are being applied in healthcare apps as a popular medium to encourage rural populations about health outcomes. With the recent outbreak of Covid-19, the use of health care apps is only increasing.

Gamification process in healthcare

While making a gamified healthcare app you need to focus on the pain points that gamification can address. For example, motivation loss while fasting, lack of concentration in meditation or difficulties during rehabilitation. The patients’ needs are to be very carefully analyzed in order to make a product that fits those needs.

So, to make an engaging gamified healthcare app you need to stick to these two major points:

  • Rapid feedback 

Application users should be able to get instant feedback in the form of different rewards, achievements or a recommendation from the doctor.

  • Progression

There must be a strong analytic system in the application so that the users are able to track their progress and compare their current results with the prior ones.

After this, you should be able to design the healthcare game app according to the required needs. You can add different gaming mechanisms like reward badges, leader boards, and some challenges to make the application more enticing and engaging for the users.

Conclusion

To summarise, the rapid digitalization of the world is affecting every aspect of our lives and the healthcare industry is no exception. Every medical software development company is utilizing every available resource and technology to make patient quality care better.

And gamification is one such resource that enables them to make the patients more engaged and aware of their health care problems. So, the recent growth of healthcare gamification is only going to increase with increased use of health care technology.

FAQs: 

List the best gamification health and fitness apps

Some of the best health and fitness applications of 2021 are:

  • Zombies, Run!
  • Fitocracy
  • Nike+ Run Club
  • Couch to 5K
  • JEFIT
  • Strava
  • Fitbit App

How is the gamification of healthcare emergence of the digital Practitioner?

Strict regulatory processes are necessary for the safe application of gaming principles to patient care. Clinical guidelines to make sure that the gamification principles are appropriate for patients are also needed. All these factors call for the need of a digital practitioner or a digital consultant, who helps guide the gamification process, select proper healthcare apps and also monitor the appropriate outcome of these apps. 

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