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Healthcare app developers are evaluating the overall effects of gamification and are wondering if the gamification of healthcare apps could influence a positive change on population health. Specifically, they are considering if patients would be more likely to use health-related apps if the apps allowed them to compete with other individuals and earn recognition for their accomplishments.
Since the introduction of social games on mobile devices, many users have spent countless hours playing on their smartphones. The popularity of both freemium and paid games on mobile devices has generated a significant amount of revenue and continues to draw in more users. Smartphone game players are from different generations, and the majority of them are not considered hardcore gamers.
Because mobile gaming has attracted a mainstream audience, healthcare application development won't have to limit the target audience when creating a product that could help consumers and patients become more engaged in their health. Several studies have shown that mobile health apps are one of the technologies that can have a significant influence on encouraging patients to track their health. To help accomplish that goal, those working on mobile healthcare application development may be able to learn important lessons from mobile gaming platforms that have gained global audiences and continue to keep their users engaged.
Healthcare apps offer a number of benefits to patients and consumers. Mobile apps can help track different physical activities, monitor vital signs, and offer reminders and education to patients with specific health conditions. The introduction of friendly competitions and reward systems could drive more adoption of health apps. Those gamification features could be applied to most of the available health apps and wearable devices, including those in the following areas:
- Fitness and activity trackers (Fitbit, Runkeeper and others)
- Diet and nutrition tracking
- Medication compliance and adherence
- Patient vitals tracking
- Sleep tracking
- Clinical follow up (patient communication with care providers)
The ability to apply some sort of gamification to the preceding data elements could be invaluable to aiding patients in improving their fitness and overall health. The fact that health apps are useful should make them a strong selling point from the perspective of developers in the healthcare application development space. If a developer creates an app that is simple to use and effective in helping patients, it will result in a high number of users and continuous use of the app by an engaged group of people. In addition, healthcare providers could use the data collected through apps to track and receive feedback from their patients.
Through the gamification of healthcare apps, healthcare organizations will be able to form deeper bonds and connections with consumers and patients. They can do so by involving patients in their care at a much more personal level and harnessing the data being collected. While there are only a handful of apps that currently take advantage of the gaming concept, there is plenty of room for other healthcare app developers to follow suit and persuade mobile users to see health apps in a new light.
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