How is Gaming Changing the Landscape in Health Care? Part 2 | Joseph C. Kvedar, Center for Connected Health

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

Health care industry insiders answer the question:

“How is gaming changing the landscape in health care?”

In Part 1, Fabio Gratton, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Ignite Health, shared his insightful thoughts and answered the question, “How is Gaming Changing the Landscape in Health Care?”

In Part 2, Joseph C. Kvedar, Founder and Director Center for Connected Health answers the question: “How is gaming changing the landscape in health care?” In Part 3, Bill Crounse, MD, Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation answers that question and in Part 4, I will weigh in on the topic.

Jospeph C. Kvedar, MD, Center for Connected Health

Q: How is gaming helping to change the landscape in health care?

A: Everyone is doing it. Men, women, kids, Baby Boomers. Can healthcare providers ignore the fact that gaming can be another tool in their armamentarium? Will consumers embrace gaming as a way to get fit, lose weight or manage their high blood pressure?

When it comes to gaming for health, I see two silos drifting apart. First, traditional healthcare is long considered doctor driven, serious and focused on addressing acute illness. It’s assumed that if you are sick, you’ll want to get better so, just follow the doctor’s advice for God’s sake! It’s perceived that there’s no room for gaming here, methinks.  The prevailing view is that your health is no game; it’s serious.

The other silo is the consumer-driven, highly focused personal drive to improve one’s health/wellness/fitness. This is about fun, being fit, looking youthful, svelte, hip, in. We want the right gadgets and the trendiest workout to create that youthful appearance we all strive for.

Here, creating an environment that gets folks competing online to achieve their health goals is more obvious and makes sense.

However, there is also middle ground, left up for grabs – chronic illness. The traditional healthcare system is still very acute illness focused, while the fitness crowd is about muscles, runs, reps, etc.  In a fascinating commentary published in the December 14 issue of JAMA, Allan S. Detsky, MD, PhD, contends that the number one thing consumers want from the healthcare system is, quite simply, to be better when ill. Detsky says patients want certain qualities from their healthcare providers, including timeliness, kindness, hope and certainty, and a trusting relationship. He rightly concludes that, “What people want when they are healthy may be very different from what they want when they are sick.”

So, the question remains, can we use gaming to transform the market for chronic illness?  I think we can. But a real mind set shift is required. Doctors have to begin to think that their patients might have fun getting better. Patients need to start thinking that their doctors can be a bit irreverent and that this is ok, maybe even a good thing.

There are a number of very smart researchers and companies devoted to harnessing the psychology of gaming for improving health and wellness. We’re increasingly seeing consumers respond to incentives, such as earning points, badges or virtual rewards for living healthier or achieving their personal health goals. Healthrageous, a company we launched from our Center over a year ago is using all of these tools to improve engagement.  We’ve only just scratched the surface.

And, with an estimated half billion people using mobile apps by 2015, app developers are working overtime. Apps like Meal Snap from the Daily Burn’s health and fitness platform estimates the calories of any food or drink, and AsthmaMD, iHeadache and the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach help people to track everything from triggers and medication to sleep patterns.

But we still have miles to go to change the mindset of health care providers and consumers. Game on.

About Joseph C. Kvedar, MD

Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, is the Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health, working to create a new model of healthcare delivery,by developing programs and innovative strategies to move care from the hospital or doctor’s office into the day-to-day lives of patients.

In his role with the Center for Connected Health, Dr. Kvedar is creating innovative programs to leverage information technology – cellphones, computers, networked devices and simple remote health monitoring tools – to help providers and patients manage chronic conditions, maintain health and wellness and improve adherence, engagement and clinical outcomes. Based on the technology platform developed at the Center, Healthrageous, a personalized health technology company, was launched in 2010, offering a range of health and wellness self-management programs to their clients.

In addition, Dr. Kvedar also launched the first physician-to-physician online consultation service in an academic setting, which today electronically links patients from around the world and their local providers with leading specialists at Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals.

Dr. Kvedar is internationally recognized for his leadership and vision in the field of connected health and the application of communications technologies to improve healthcare to patients. He is a frequent lecturer and has authored over 70 publications on the subject. Dr. Kvedar serves as a Board member for a number of organizations, including the Continua Health Alliance and the Care Continuum Alliance. He also is a Co-Founder of Healthrageous and Chair of the company’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr. Kvedar is a past President and Board member of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and a Past Chair of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Task Force on Telemedicine. In 2009, Dr. Kvedar was honored by the ATA with its Individual Leadership Award, recognizing his significant contributions to connected health and telemedicine. Mass High Tech,The Journal of New England Technology named Dr. Kvedar an All-Star in the field of healthcare and he has been honored by the New England Business and Technology Association for his extraordinary leadership in the field.

A division of Partners HealthCare, the Center for Connected Health works with Harvard Medical School-affiliated teaching hospitals, including Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals. Dr. Kvedar is also a board-certified dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School.

Center for Connected Health
Follow Dr. Kvedar on Twitter @jkveda
Read Dr. Kvedar’s blog, The cHealth Blog

Your turn

We would love for you to share your insightful thoughts and comments.  “How is Gaming Changing the Landscape in Health Care?”

As always, thank you for your valuable time.

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Next up

Part 3, Bill Crounse, MD, Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation answers the question, “How is Gaming Changing the Landscape in Health Care?”

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