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News Article

Treatment Adherence Through Gamification

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 10/15/2021 - 14:51

Gamification aims to empower patients to take care of their own health by using techniques commonly seen in videogames. Technology developers are introducing gamification into tools and platforms to improve patient adherence to medications.

Adherence to therapies is a primary determinant of treatment success, according to the Oman Medical Journey. Failure to adhere to a prescribed treatment is a serious problem that not only affects the patient but the healthcare system. Medication non adherence in patients leads to substantial worsening of disease, death and increased healthcare costs.

Barriers to treatment adherence include: non adherence, in which providers write prescription but the treatment is never initiated; non-persistence, in which patients decide to stop taking a medication after starting it without the counsel of a health professional; and non-conforming, in which the medication is not taken as prescribed, such as skipping doses.

The barriers can be worsened if treatment requirements expand because patients may feel overwhelmed by the challenges associated with the coordination of their care, according to the Oman Medical Journal. This can include keeping track of who they need to see and when, the frequency of visits, and location for services. If care coordination feels difficult, patients may elect to pursue only some treatments.

For younger patients and children, adherence becomes even more challenging. According to the American Family Physician Organization, reasons why children do not take their medications include parents’ lack of understanding of the diagnosis, concerns about drug therapy effectiveness and fear of medication side effects.

Gamification in Healthcare

Gamification refers to the addition of game mechanisms to environments where they would not conventionally be found to engage with consumers, employees and partners to inspire collaborate, share and interact. In healthcare, gamification attempts to apply gaming principles to improve patient clinical outcomes.

The Harvard Business Review explains that while gamification is already being used widely to encourage healthy behaviors, many current designs cater to “super users” who already like games and are motivated to improve their fitness. These programs are unlikely to engage those at higher risk who could benefit most from changing their behavior. Some groups are using gamification to help patients with uncontrolled diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

In Mexico, gamification is being to enhance access to healthcare. The Laboratory for Research and Development of Interactive Applications for Neuro-Rehabilitation (LANR) is developing video games for neurorehabilitation of people who affected their upper motor skills (arms and hands) due to a cerebrovascular event.

The LANR seeks to timely help cardiovascular disease patients who do not have access to rehabilitation services in the public health system and policy holders at risk of losing the opportunity to regain damaged functions due to delays in care. With five years of existence, the laboratory aims to develop interactive applications such as video games that incorporate position and movement sensors–such as Microsoft's Kinect– to support rehabilitation therapies in patients with some type of neurological disability.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst