Health IT

5 healthcare games we’d like to see under our tree in 2013

Games have arrived and earned their place in healthcare. They are used as a teaching tool for medical schools residents to translate ideas into practice, to teach empathy and to improve on-the-job training.

One Canadian company InVivo Communications developed an obstacle dodging game to show the role of the nurse as an action adventure hero for Johnson & Johnson. More recently, at the mHealth Summit in Washington, DC, a company showed an interactive role playing game it developed to help educators and primary care physicians spot signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It let users choose what questions to ask based on what the patient says so they can see what would be helpful and what could upset the individual.

It’s too late for this year, but here are some games I’d love to see by Christmas 2013.

Hospital budget blitz You are the CFO of a suburban hospital charged with making some tough financial decisions for the coming year, without compromising patient care. You are in the second phase of converting to electronic medical records to comply with the latest Meaningful Use requirements. A new drug from a big phama company has performed well but it’s twice as expensive as the older medication for the same condition. Readmission rates for pneumonia need to come down or you’ll get less money from Medicare. This choose-your-own adventure gives you options to address these and other budgetary challenges. Make the right choices and you win a smile from the CEO. Make the wrong ones and you’ll be looking for a new job before the fiscal year is over.


Perfect pitch In this roleplaying game, a tech entrepreneur pitches an idea for a health IT patient management tool to a payer, provider and physician. It promises to reduce costs and improve outcomes. Through a series of interactive questions and a helpful bar on the screen that rises and falls according to the audience’s attention level, you can gauge everyone’s interest. The objective is to understand the needs of each client and what might motivate each one to adopt your technology. If you persuade a potential customer to do a pilot program, you move on to a bonus round in which players see how much cash they can scoop up from an agreeable investor.

He’s fallen and you have to get him up! Devices that monitor seniors for sudden changes in behavior to indicate dementia or other health problems to help them live in their own homes longer have become increasingly appealing. So too have ones for newly discharged patients to help reduce readmissions. In this challenge you must respond to alarms from a neighborhood full of patients. Act quickly when a house lights up or you’ll lose your patients.

Which one matters? According to the Patient Safety Authority, alarm fatigue is a serious problem in most hospitals. You are a nurse in the intensive care unit of a busy hospital. There are three patient rooms. By trial and error (ie by clicking on each flashing monitor), you learn the difference between the sound of an urgent alarm, an ambient alarm and medium grade urgency alarm.

Sundowning simulator To help doctors and caregivers understand what memory loss is like, this game is similar to what Second Wind Dreams has done with its Virtual Dementia Simulator. Designed for healthcare professionals, the simulator includes earphones that play a recording of distracting noise and goggles to recreate the experience of how disorienting a neurological condition like Alzheimer’s disease can be. With this game, the player goes through a normal day but then starts to feel restless and confused as the day ends. You can be the person with dementia or the caregiver trying to help.

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