UPenn’s Wharton School Blog discusses the growing trend of Healthcare Gamification

The Knowledge Blog at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business posted an article on January 16th, 2013 named “The Rise of Healthcare Gamification”. The article discussed gamification challenges, such as policy violations and engagement. Various companies including GameMetrix Solutions and United Healthcare were also illuminated as competitors in the new industry. The article also touches upon a number of significant issues, including patents and privacy obstacles, that companies in the industry need to overcome.

The article, though not recently published, is an important read in order to grasp the underlying fundamentals of arguably the fasted developing industry in the United States.

“These days, anyone with a smartphone can download a variety of games designed to make them healthier, whether that means helping them stick to an exercise routine, lose weight or manage a chronic illness. The games, invented by health insurers and a host of technology startups, are marketed directly to consumers, who use them to track their progress and record key health metrics such as blood sugar and pounds shed. Players of these games can win rewards, perhaps even cash, if they hit their health goals.”

“Experts have dubbed this trend ‘the gamification of health care.’ It means ‘applying elements and design concepts from games to other contexts that are not themselves games,’ says Kevin Werbach, Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics. ‘Using motivational techniques from games is part of it, as is creating engaging experiences for people.’ Werbach is co-author of For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business, which argues that companies should think like game designers when they are devising new ways to motivate employees and customers.

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Games VS Gamification: Similarities and Differences

A common misconception that we hear a lot is the idea that “games” and “gamification” are the same entity. However, this is not the case. Although they do overlap in some similarities, the differences are significant.

A recent article published on Mind/Shift, a blog that “explores the future of learning”, explains the critical separations between games, gamification, and stimulation.

“Perhaps the best way to think about games in education is not to automatically call everything that looks like fun a “learning game.” Lumping all digital game approaches together makes no more sense than a toddler’s inclination to call every four-legged animal a ‘doggie.’”

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A perspective on improving adherence in the one third to one half of Americans who don’t take their medication as directed

Learning how to deal with patient non-adherence is one of the most difficult tasks assigned to a medical professional. Dr. Lisa Rosenbaum and Dr. William H. Shrank conveyed their perspectives on the subject in their recent article featured in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The article discusses issues associated with medication adherence and their ideas on how to combat non-adherence. Development in the adherence  industry is critical to addressing the estimated 100 to 290 billion dollar annual cost burdened by the U.S Government. Accountable Care Organizations are also discussed in the article as a way to provide more efficient healthcare methods at lower prices.

“A new patient with an abnormal electrocardiogram comes to your office. He is 53, smokes, and has hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Though he comes for preoperative risk evaluation, he needs more than ‘medical clearance’ — he needs a primary doctor. Given his risk factors and hesitance to change his lifestyle, you recommend aspirin, a statin, and an antihypertensive. When he doesn’t show up for his stress test, you call him, and he says he doesn’t understand what the fuss is all about — he feels fine. ‘Why don’t you wait until something is wrong with me to give me these medications?’ he asks, launching into a litany of justifications for not taking them: cost, nuisance, potential side effects, not wanting to put anything ‘unnatural’ in his body, and lack of perceived benefit. You attempt to educate him about his risk, but he says, ‘No disrespect to you, Doctor, but I’ve just never been a pill person. But,’ he adds, ‘if something were to happen, you would still take care of me, right?’”

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What are parents worried about? Health Problems and Health Concerns for Children

An interesting report carried out in July 26th, 2012 by Jane M. Garbutt, et al, from Washington University School of Medicine surveyed parents in order to determine the most prominent parental concerns regarding children.

Parents were given 30 different items as health problems and rated them as “large, medium, small or no problem”. Results showed that allergies (69%), lack of exercise (68%), and asthma (65%) were the most significant concerns (rated large or medium).

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The pecentage of asthmatic children exposed to second hand smoke has not dropped in over a decade

Secondhand smoke is known for causing attacks and discomfort in asthma patients. It is also known for developing asthma or even worsening an already diagnosed case. NBC News covered a recent study done by the National Center for Health Statistics on kids, asthma and secondhand smoke.

Results showed that the percentage of children exposed to secondhand smoke has dropped over recent years. However, the percentage of children with asthma haven’t been exposed any less.

“At a time when many Americans have managed to kick the habit, a surprising new government report finds that asthmatic kids are just as likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke as they were a decade ago, especially if they come from poor families.”

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