There is a growing interest to utilize digital tools to improve the quality and availability of care. While remote patient monitoring enables continuous flow of data outside hospitals and proactive responses in emergency situations, telehealth facilitates on-demand access to healthcare professionals.
Another emerging digital tool that is being used to improve patient engagement is gamification. It aims to use challenges and instant rewards to improve patient motivation. By influencing the behaviour of patients, gamified applications help encourage healthy habits thereby leading to better disease management and improved health outcomes.
A growing number of companies and start-ups are offering digital health solutions and platforms to both providers and patients to choose from. Emboldened by their experience as customers in the online shopping, entertainment and consumer markets, patients are becoming more demanding in the healthcare industry as well. However, applications with gamification embedded in them are quickly creating a niche for themselves in the large and complex digital healthcare market. Digital health monitoring is a prime example of an area where gamification strategies can be readily applied. Wearable devices like Fitbit and Apple watches and apps like Strava allow users to not only track and analyze their fitness activities but motivate users and integrate a layer of satisfaction to fitness activities.
The pandemic has greatly affected the rate at which technology has been adopted by healthcare providers. The quarantines have led to a dramatic shift in people’s expectations and lifestyles and increased the demand for services like telemedicine and remote patient monitoring. Furthermore, increased penetration of smartphones and usage of wearables enable the use of gamified products; and linking fitness activities to social networks that drive better engagement through online competition have led to faster adoption of gamified applications.
Multiple players are leveraging gamification to improve participation, engagement, and motivation, consequently increasing patient well-being across the patient journey (preventative care, diagnosis, therapy, and palliative care).
Focusing on Preventive Care
StepSetGo: Application rewards users with cash rewards for walking. Other gamification features to drive engagement include tasks which are a list of activities that need to be completed by the user for extra coins which can be redeemed for cash.
Focusing on Therapy
Mango Health: Application sets up daily routines and recommending personalized healthy habits. Additional features include prescription reminders and incentives for medication schedule adherence in the form of points.
Focusing on Palliative Care
Nintendo: Applications on the Nintendo platform help improve brain health of senior citizens through engaging games which stimulate the brain.
Focusing on Overall Patient Journey
Ayogo: The application is designed to setup personal health plans and track behavioral habits through reminders and recording user behavior.
While the above benefits cases focus on the patient, gamification helps drive better outcomes for healthcare providers as well by allowing them to plan activities and gamified actions for patients. Typical benefits cases include:
- Symptoms and wellness tracking involves use of gamified digital health platforms where patients can engage, monitor health parameters, and track wellness.
- Treatment and ongoing care focus on providers integrating patient behaviour and activity monitoring data from gamified applications into clinical health systems. Physicians can gain greater insight into symptoms to properly diagnose critical diseases and remotely monitor patient activity and vital health parameters for chronic disease management.
- Appointment scheduling involves combining automatic schedule appointments with gamification strategies to lower patients’ anxiety about health outcomes before their healthcare center visit.
- Medication adherence drives better adherence for prescription medication to encourage on-time consumption of medicines and reduce hospitalization costs incurred by payers due to lack of adherence through use of rewards, points, and other gamified incentives.
- Health insurance linked benefits cases allow payers and providers alike to realise benefits from risk-based payment models by applying gamification strategies to boost physician and case manager engagement within patient tracking to accurately predict at-risk patients.
- Physician engagement linked benefits cases allow healthcare systems to use gamification to reduce common HAIs among hospital units thereby improving overall process quality.
- Revenue Cycle Management: Gamification can also attribute to improved revenue cycle performance by incorporating real time feedbacks and gaming elements to spur employee productivity, create a culture of transparency, and get deep insight into staff performance.
While there are benefits to gamification for both providers and patients, embedding gamification within applications requires a clear strategy and understanding of prerequisites for successful implementation.
Following are some of the pre-requisites to realize the complete benefits of gamification:
- Seamless integration across platforms and other third-party applications
- Leverage data analytics to design personalized patient journey
- Adopt the right gamification strategies to deliver promised results
- Adopt data security and privacy guidelines compliant with patient privacy regulations
Organizations that can support providers in building capabilities to realize the pre-requisites outlined above would be able to drive value for their clients and help deliver truly personalized services to the patients.