From The Editor | December 2, 2014

Why Gamification Is Failing In Healthcare

ken congdon

By Ken Congdon

Gamification — the application of game elements and digital game design techniques to everyday problems, such as business dilemmas and social challenges — is not new. On the contrary, gamification has been commonplace in fields like education and military for years. However, it wasn’t until recently that the concept of gamification started to generate interest in the healthcare industry. Many healthcare leaders view gamification as a potentially critical component to patient engagement, wellness adherence, and outcome improvement.

In response, software developers have begun “gamifying” applications for healthcare in droves. Some of these apps are targeted to health providers as a way to spark patient engagement and wellness adherence. Others are geared to payers as a tool to get their members interested and invested in prevention, thus cutting the overall cost of care to the insurer. And some are aimed at patients (a.k.a. consumers) to support personal nutrition and fitness goals.

While there’s an abundance of healthcare gamification options to choose from, these applications have yet to become widely adopted in the industry. This is especially true when it comes to healthcare providers. For example, gamification ranked dead last out of 44 technology initiatives we asked healthcare providers to prioritize in our recent Top 10 Health IT Trends for 2015 survey. This was surprising given the level of interest gamification has generated in healthcare as of late.

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