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Gamification in Healthcare

Gamification in Healthcare: Emerging Use Cases for Service Providers

“The gamification market size in 2020 had a global value of USD 9.1 Bn and is predicted to register a CAGR of 27.4%, reaching USD 30.7 Bn by 2025.”

Gamification” as a term is becoming increasingly popular with different types of service providers trying to help their customers or users engage more enthusiastically and increase output. Gamification can be defined as the application of game mechanics to non-game contexts. Incorporating the active and addictive elements of gaming makes it possible to induce intrinsic motivation in the customers.

Gamification in Healthcare

Gamification has already been applied in several domains, including education, business, and environmental sustainability. However, there has been an increasing interest in applying gamification to the digital healthcare industry .

Incorporating game mechanics into healthcare results in patients feeling motivated by the idea of getting better. The modern features of smartphones such as accelerometers, inbuilt sensors, and GPS have proven to be especially useful for the seamless delivery of healthcare systems.

Gamified healthcare apps help to set patient goals, organize medical data and measure success in health outcomes. Simple examples of gamification in healthcare are counting steps to earn rewards or competing against a friend or dietary apps that make healthy eating fun by giving out delicious recipes to experiment with daily.

Factors driving the growth of gamification include:

  • An outcome-based medical approach that focuses on enjoyable improvement.
  • Value-based rewards for each task resulting in patient motivation.
  • The shift of the digital health market to the B2C model.
  • Growth of the millennial generation that prefers gaming.
  • Increasing health consciousness, evident by the rise in health apps usage.
  • Innovation in technologies such as gesture control in Kinect for Xbox 360.

Gamifying Healthcare: Case Studies

Healthcare with gamification is transforming the way patients were treated before. With emerging use cases and applications across the industry, gamified healthcare is redefining personal wellness. For some, gamification may still come across as a new term, but it has been in the industry for a long time.

Physical Fitness and Nutrition

One of the significant uses of gamification was seen mainly in Physical fitness and nutrition.

It is true that a majority of people don’t prefer a personal trainer either due to costs associated or personal routines not suiting them. This was the primary reason why physical fitness and nutrition were gamified.

Now, people could have a personal trainer on their phone or wrist who’d reward them after every achievement. This was enjoyable too because it was economical, user-friendly, and suited every routine. The usage was not only software-based (applications) but also hardware (fitness watches).

Today, Fitbit has almost 1,500 corporate wellness program customers, including IBM and Bank of America. Such corporate partnerships allow employers to reduce employee healthcare costs by improving lifestyles or providing instant access to non-emergency care. Fitbit utilizes GPS with custom sensors designed to capture human health and display on an interactive screen.

Nutrition apps like HealthifyMe are leading nutrition with custom diet plans suiting any body type. HealthifyMe recently pushed itself into the corporate space by promoting a healthy diet and regular fitness to employers and employees and creating a community within the organization. HealthifyMe uses AI and machine learning to predict and keep patients up-to-date about their existing health and future goals.


Patients often refuse to take their medications either due to personal disliking or forgetting the timings. This was becoming a serious concern as not taking the proper medications on time would deteriorate patients’ health.

Mango Health developed a smartphone application designed to motivate patients to take their medications on time. Users set the times when medications should be taken, and the app reminds them. It also warns about drug makeup and side effects. By taking the medicines on time, users earn reward points towards gift cards or charitable donations.

Gamifying medication helped patients make the simple process of taking pills into something they can have fun with. Medication apps mostly use AI, ML, and Cloud to identify a pattern of consumption and suggest the best methods to take medications on time while storing the data in a cloud server.

Physical therapy and rehabilitation

As gamifying healthcare was beginning, AR and VR seemed to be the best bets for a home coach. Reflexion Health developed a video feedback system to correct patients’ movements who practice physical therapy-based exercises. Motion-guided technology compared physical movements with those of the models and provided guidance and correction suggestions.

A Canadian company, GestureTek Health, developed applications specific to health, disability, and rehabilitation. Its VR exercise programs enable patients to have fun while stretching their physical and cognitive capabilities.

AR and VR lead the pack in physical therapy to provide video feedback and assist patients in posture, techniques, and relative benefits of it.

Engaging Children

Gamification can help children forget their medical treatment and make them responsible for their health.

The Re-Mission game series has proven to be effective in helping children and young adults suffering from various forms of cancer. Re-Mission puts the player in control of the “Roxy” nanobot to fight cancer with chemoblaster, radiation gun, antibiotic rocket, and other weapons derived from actual medical treatments.

Zamzee developed an activity tracker for children to move and complete quests based on their physical level. In a controlled study, kids using Zamzee were found to be 60% more active. Young players collect points by moving and completing challenges.

This is the largest segment, when looked at technologically, since it utilizes a range of technologies from AI and ML to AR, VR, and Cloud.

How gamification can help your business

Employers, insurers, and healthcare providers are focusing more on keeping people out of the hospital by helping them manage their health. Thus, the market demands high-quality and complex solutions that make getting healthy more fun.

Gamification delivers proven and tangible results. By applying gamification elements to the product, businesses have experienced an increase in engagement across social media and website traffic generated.

This results in an increased demand for service providers in specific technologies to create applications and tools helpful in gamifying healthcare. Service providers can use certain tools to track business intentions and outsourcing opportunities to enter the gamification market.

Service providers can target technologies including:

Artificial intelligence – Assisting the patient like a personal coach or offering suggestions in a quick chat. AI will be most heavily used when adding a personal touch to the gamified solutions.

Machine learning – Understanding patient behavior and symptoms to suggest the best therapies and medications that suit a particular body type. ML will be primarily used in analyzing patient data and creating new models.

Cloud-based networks and systems – Collecting patient data and organizing medical records in an easy-to-access network to be retrieved quickly when needed. Cloud will mainly be used in storing, managing, and retrieving patient data.

Virtual reality – Taking patients on a virtual tour of the human body or teaching kids about their disease via interactive animations. VR will be mostly used to engage children in their therapies and understand what is happening within.

Augmented reality – Bringing human anatomy to the real world or letting kids beat cancer cells with a handy remote in the real world. AR will be primarily used in real-world engagement of children with the human body.

Cross-platform app development – Making healthcare accessible via both web and mobile, enabling families and friends to connect and share their health goals through any device. Cross-platform app development will be mostly used in making shared healthcare accessible for everybody.

These technologies are currently in use in the healthcare gamification ecosystem and will possibly result in massive demand as companies move forward with this gamification drive.

Draup for Sales  tracks the latest strategic and tactical movements across the healthcare landscape and the cross-section of verticals affected by it. By monitoring key business intentions and digital themes across 30+ industries, our proprietary sales intelligence platform enables you to seize potential use cases and evaluate strategic partnerships with a 360-degree view.