Gaming for Patient Treatment – What’s Fun Got to Do With It?

By February 17, 2015In the Press, Insights

By Susan Williams – this is an excerpt from Gaming for Patient Treatment originally published in MedCrunch

People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”
– Dale Carnegie

The Theory of Fun is an organization devoted to social experiments in fun. In one experiment, they turned a staircase next to an escalator into a piano to see whether people would still opt for the less physically challenging escalator. Not only did people choose for the fun piano staircase; they also went up and down the stairs multiple times (see the results here.) Playfulness has increasingly become incorporated into patient engagement and adherence. Additionally, creative tactics like video games that use fun, competition, and your social networks have shown positive affects on health and fitness behavior.
Paul Tarini, team leader for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio, reported in 2010 that the collision of games and healthcare was inevitable. Featured that year at the Games for Health conference in Boston, MA, were dancing games for patients with Parkinson’s disease, or alternatives-to-smoking games on iPhones. Since, we’ve seen an unveiling of companies that develop games benefitting all sorts of conditions from anxiety and depression (SinaSprite byLitesprite) to games for kids with cancer (Re-Mission2 by Hopelab). The results have been significant and have illustrated how patients feel more inclined to accept and learn from a game about their condition than from, say, a PowerPoint or clinician. In Re-Mission2, results showed how players adhered to their treatment longer and more consistently after interacting with the game. Even more impressive, players had higher levels of chemotherapy in their body and so were literally responding to treatment better.
Michael Fergusson, founder and CEO of Ayogo Health, a social gaming production company based in Vancouver, believes games are the key to patient engagement and adherence.
Practitioners, Fergusson says, “still haven’t internalized the idea that we need to help people do the right thing. Not just by giving them the opportunity, but making them want to do it.”
Read more of Michael Fergusson’s thoughts in Ayogo’s White Paper:

Designing Digital Tools for Patient Engagement