The gamification of health is rapidly gaining momentum as researchers are trying to find new ways to incentivise personal health. Gamification in this instance involves turning health and self-care into games – activities that have the potential to be highly compelling, capturing an audience that might not otherwise not be interested in personal healthcare equipment teamed management.
It is much more than capturing an audience, however. The very nature of games allows for a better mental understanding and maintenance of health. Professor Eli Hershkovitz of Ben-Gurion University in Israel summarises this mechanism well, stating that “the more rewarding the environment, the better our memory and the more easily we learn. Hence an individual placed in a gamified scenario can achieve more than through self-learning.”
Current examples of gamification in healthcare
Gamification is not the future of healthcare – it’s already here. There already exist a multitude of apps that benefit a variety of illnesses and states of health.
Perhaps the best example is the incredibly popular mobile phone app Pokémon Go. This particular app resulted in previously sedentary players moving around for potentially long stretches of time as they hunt for Pokémon in their environment. Although a success for what it intended to do, Pokémon Go also proved that such an app could encourage millions of users to change the way they approach their personal health.
The potential for serious disease management
Other apps that focus more specifically on health maintenance include mySugr, an app developed by an Austrian startup designed to make diabetes management simple, and even fun, for users with the use of cute “diabetes monster”. Such an approach is especially effective for children and is taken advantage of through the mySugr Junior app. Success is evident for this particular app, further solidifying gamification in healthcare as a viable goal for the future – currently mySugr has over a million users, a userbase that will only grow.
The future of gamification in healthcare
The adoption of current gamification trends in the medical sector affirms the public’s desire to make healthcare a more accessible, interesting and fun affair.
With rapid developments in games, there exists huge potential to take gamification further in the future. Virtual reality tech poses as many questions as it answers, with the potential to engage users on an entirely new level, and only the future will tell how games can change healthcare for the better.