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Gamification Is Revolutionising Healthcare and Medical Education

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In the race to win consumers’ interest, nearly every type of business has been utilising gamification in their marketing in recent years. Gamification captures a person’s attention by utilising the fun, addictive qualities that simple games have to offer.

Today, even businesses and educators in the healthcare field have been jumping on the bandwagon, though, in different ways. 

Hospitals and clinics have been using gamification for more than just marketing; it’s been found that gamification can help in the rehabilitation of patients, too. Because of this, many providers have been integrating gamification into the treatment of patients.

It’s a great way to motivate patients, however, there is little knowledge of how it could affect a patient in the long run and whether it is truly effective.

Educators have also been turning to gamification as a way to better teach materials to medical students and as a study aid for those students.

As we progress further into the digital age, the reality that these video game concepts could be a pillar of healthcare seems to be becoming more and more normalised, but how does it affect patients’ and medical students’ short- and long-term?

What is gamification?

Gamification is the integration of gaming mechanics on websites to enhance users’ engagement. While the concept is based on gaming, though, it isn’t necessarily an entertaining game. The goal is to simply use gaming techniques to keep a person’s interest and motivate them.

Gamification is great at keeping a person engaged, which is why businesses and educators alike use gamification. Keeping users engaged helps them grasp information effortlessly. Because of this, gamification is often used as a pedagogical tool in eLearning since it maintains participation rates and helps the students naturally absorb the information.

The overall display is kept relatively simple; it is well organised and easy on the eyes, so the added basic gaming structures and features don’t overwhelm the user. That way, users can easily navigate throughout the site. The two most popular formats are competitions, gaming activities, and virtual tours.

Websites that use gamification through competition typically have small activities for users to learn through play and use a scoreboard to motivate users to acquire a better “score”. When using a digital tour, users are able to explore a virtual world and can click on certain buildings, which will have an informational popup.

For example, users can explore the locations and purposes of different buildings on a campus so that they are familiar with the grounds prior to arriving there in person.

Another way a business can use gamification is through marketing. It attracts potential consumers to their websites and, therefore, can draw those possible customers to that business’s products and services.

There are countless apps available on the digital marketplace that offer solutions to nearly every problem, entertainment, and so much more, so no wonder healthcare providers have resorted to this advantageous medium.

How healthcare providers use gamification

Hospitals and clinics have begun to use eLearning and gamification heavily in recent years, but their use is usually reserved for treating patients.

Doctors have exploited the benefits of eLearning apps, which has been applied to everything from physical health to mental health to rehabilitation. This practice is part of what’s commonly referred to as eHealth, which also involves the integration of the internet and programmes into various aspects of healthcare, such as communication and information.

Because gamification is easy to use, entertaining, and keeps the user engrossed in the programme, users find it much easier to learn the material, and it can be a useful method in a patient’s treatment plan.

For example, a patient may use a programme that uses gamification to keep track of their medications and treatment plan and a fun activity or digital prize may serve as a reward. However, studies have shown that the positive effect is only short-term.

Still, it is theorised that it has the potential to influence patients positively long-term in the future if experts continue to work with the psychology behind game mechanics. There is still much unknown about the effects of gamification in medical treatment and it continues to be a thoroughly studied topic.

It can also assist the doctor in doing their job and aid in diagnosing, as it provides an effortless way for them to find and retrieve information, reach out to other health professionals, and figure out the best treatment option.

Another way gamification has made its way into the health field is through programmes that facilitate better communication between medical professionals and patients. Messaging services and reminders keep them connected and enable both parties to respond quickly.

Gamification in health education

The use of technology in the classroom has become an increasingly normal concept. There are a multitude of programmes that help teach material, study tool, and aid in the absorption of information. Gamification plays an important part in many of these programmes.

Learning through fun activities, visual aids, and games allows the mind to understand concepts and retain facts better. It’s also an accessible medium for students to study.

In the medical education classroom, professors are able to use programmes that render accurate simulations of human anatomy, medical procedures, and surgical procedures to better prepare students for real-life situations.

Incorporating technology and gamification in the classroom has yielded favourable results when compared to a traditional learning pedagogy, and will continue to advance to improve students’ learning experiences.

Dr Joel Arun Sursas is a skilled medical doctor and health informatician motivated to solve administrative problems in healthcare. 

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