Gamification, the use of game design elements in non-game contexts, is increasingly being adopted in the healthcare industry. This trend is motivated by the potential for gamification to engage patients in their own care, motivate healthy behavior, and improve health outcomes. We will discuss some ways in which gamification is being used in healthcare and the potential benefits and drawbacks of this approach.
One way in which gamification is being used in healthcare is through the creation of health-related mobile apps and online platforms that incorporate game-like features. These platforms often use rewards, points, and leaderboards to incentivize healthy behaviors such as exercising, taking medication, and tracking diet and sleep. For example, the popular app MyFitnessPal allows users to track their daily food intake and exercise, and rewards them with virtual badges and points for reaching their goals.
In person health interventions
Another way in which gamification is being used in healthcare is through the design of in-person health interventions that incorporate game elements. For example, some hospitals and clinics have implemented “gamified” waiting rooms, where patients can play games or complete puzzles while they wait for their appointments. This can help to reduce anxiety and boredom, and make the overall healthcare experience more enjoyable for patients.
Improved patient engagement
One potential benefit of gamification in healthcare is improved patient engagement. By incorporating game elements into healthcare interventions, providers can make the experience of receiving care more enjoyable and engaging for patients. This can help to increase adherence to treatment plans and prevent patients from “opting out” of their care. For example, a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that gamified interventions were more effective at increasing physical activity levels among patients with chronic conditions than non-gamified interventions.
Prevention by Gamification
Gamification can also help to motivate healthy behavior. By providing patients with rewards and incentives for engaging in healthy behaviors, gamified interventions can help to reinforce positive habits and encourage long-term behavior change. For example, a study published in the journal Games for Health found that a gamified smoking cessation program was more effective at helping participants quit smoking than a traditional program.
In addition to improved patient engagement and motivation, gamification has the potential to improve health outcomes. By encouraging healthy behaviors and promoting adherence to treatment plans, gamified interventions can help to prevent the onset of chronic diseases and improve the overall health of patients. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that a gamified weight loss program was effective at helping participants lose weight and maintain their weight loss over time.
Words of Caution
Despite the potential benefits of gamification in healthcare, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. One concern is that gamified interventions may only be effective at engaging a certain subset of patients. For example, younger patients who are already accustomed to using mobile apps and games may be more receptive to gamified healthcare interventions than older patients who are less familiar with technology. Additionally, gamified interventions may not be effective at engaging patients with severe chronic conditions or cognitive impairments, who may not be able to participate in the games or puzzles.
Additionally, simple gamification may not always be the most appropriate approach for addressing complex health issues. While gamified interventions can be effective at motivating healthy behavior, they may not be able to address the underlying social and psychological factors that contribute to chronic diseases. In these cases, more comprehensive interventions that incorporate a variety of approaches may be more effective.
The Octalysis Science is key
Behavioral science is key to good gamification because it provides insight into the psychological and neurological processes that drive human behavior. By understanding these processes, designers can create more effective gamified experiences that motivate people to take desired actions.
Behavioral science can help designers understand the eight core drives that motivate human behavior, as outlined in the Octalysis Framework. These drives are rooted in our evolutionary past and are influenced by various neurochemical processes in the brain, such as the release of dopamine and the activation of the reward system. By leveraging these drives, designers can create gamified experiences that tap into people’s innate motivations and drives, making the experience more engaging and effective.
Additionally, behavioral science can help designers understand how people make decisions and how they respond to different types of rewards and incentives. This knowledge can be used to create gamified experiences that are more effective at driving desired behaviors, such as by using rewards and incentives that are more likely to motivate people to take desired actions.
Did you know that Octalysis has over 2100 PhD level research citations that validate the power of the Framework. Check it out here.
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