Gamification in mHealth
October 21, 2015

The Gamification of mHealth

Written By Rebecca Larkin

As we’ve said plenty of times before, the mHealth industry is booming.
Technology and healthcare came together at a pivotal moment, and now there’s something else joining them in their endeavour and success – games.

What is Gamification?

We know it sounds like a made-up word, but with the rise of smartphones came the rise of gamification, and it’s not really surprising.

The nature of gamification is to take processes which, on the surface are rather boring, and inject a bit of fun by applying game elements such as point scoring, competition, interactive activities, and rewards, all of which are aspects that come naturally to digital platforms and apps.

What can it do for mHealth?

As the healthcare industry turns its efforts to the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, and the overall improvement of healthcare, they’ve created a perfect window for gamification to take place.

For healthcare, games can provide an interactive and engaging way to increase patient compliance while driving down costs, changing patient behaviours and encouraging healthy habits and regimes.

Typically we see gaming’s influence on health and wellness apps for self-management, disease prevention or medical education. Users can be rewarded for reaching their weight-loss goal or partake in friendly competition with other users for reaching the most steps in one day. It’s these aspects which are the true use of gamification in mHealth apps.

For the average consumer, introducing fun aspects to an app will be a perfect motivational tool to drive patient and user engagement with competition, rewards and reminder features playing a big part in the function of health apps with gamification.

Adding game style features to a healthcare app could be the difference between long lasting results, and disengaged users, as users will always be encouraged and in contact with the app or platform.

Features can also be enhanced with the integration and use of wearables, whether it be via bluetooth integration or a smartwatch app. The addition of wearable technology can bridge the gap between healthcare and patients by adding another level of encouragements, rewards and even competition to the functionality, and keeping users connected and engaged wherever they are.

Wearable devices can be worn on the body to track biological information, count steps and heart rates, but ultimately provide vital information for clinical trials and medical research, all aspects which can become even more engaging and successful with gamification through competition, rewards and other motivational initiatives.

We personally can’t wait to see a full integration of mHealth, wearables and gamification and will be exploring the full use of wearables in clinical trails at a later date.

Getting started with gamification

There are those, with a different app purpose in mind, who take gamification quite literally in order to reach a younger audience, such as this Aquafresh teeth cleaning game for children, but, although fun, these gamification instances are rare.

More and more businesses are investing in mHealth, mHealth apps and digital technologies. With more focus on data capture technology, documentation tools and electronic resources it’s no wonder patients and healthcare professionals are looking to gamification to improve their services, patient engagement and more.

If you have an idea for a health app, fancy getting yourself a mobile game, or want to integrate both, get in touch with us today.