With the explosion of social media networks in the past decade, gamification has become a powerful tool used to drive user engagement. When looking at healthcare apps, children have significantly benefitted from the fun and speedy elements injected into educational apps and games that might have previously lacked the immediacy and engagement needed.
In the meantime, researchers and experts have worked on refining engagement design and enabling users to overcome negative associations they have with completing mundane health-related tasks. The panel discussion, Kids 2.0: Engagement and Behavior Change, at the HIMSS & Health 2.0 European Digital Conference explored the making of award-winning games and the research and testing processes involved.
The panel consisted of moderator, Anna Sort, founder and CEO of PlayBenefit Spain, and speakers; Pamela Kato, owner of P.M. Kato Consulting US, Dom Raban, co-founder and CEO of Xploro, Saran Muthiah founder of Enrich My Care UK, Sveatoslav Vizitiu co-founder and CEO of Wello Romania.
During the webinar discussion, the panellists discussed the most important factors to ensure measurable impact and intended outcomes when creating a game and improving treatment adherence. Pamela Kato said: “The most important thing to do before you start designing and developing your technology is to do your homework. And it’s kind of boring. It’s not as exciting as thinking, am I going to do a shooter game or simulation?
“You need to figure out what problem you’re going to target and look in the research literature and make sure that it’s a big enough problem that you can impact and measure in a trial, and that there’s a need for it.
“I’ve seen so many situations where games didn’t work out. They didn’t have the problem. So there wasn’t really a lot of room for your game to make a difference.”
Dom Raban, co-founder and CEO Xploro spoke about his experience of developing Xploro, a clinically validated digital therapy which uses augmented reality, artificial intelligence and games to deliver health information to young patients in a way which makes them feel empowered, engaged and informed whilst having fun.
“About two years ago, we set up what we call our expert advisory board. And our expert advisory board is a group of children. Involving children has been absolutely central to our approach over the last five years,” explains Raban.
“They’re an amazing group, there’s six of them and they have been through treatment for very serious illnesses. The other six have never been anywhere near a hospital. So they give us the full range of opinions. They always have access to the latest version of Xploro and they’re always on hand to tell us what’s working, what isn’t working and come up with ideas for new features,” added Raban.
Creating a user-centred design
Kato also shared the lessons learned working with user-centred designs for children: “One of the really important lessons is to just remember it’s hard for them to express things verbally.
“What I try to do as much as possible is really try to use visuals when I talk to them, and to reduce the demands on them to have to explain things to me, but to show me by pointing at pictures of what they like.
“You’ll also have the parents around and you can ask them what’s going on as well. When you’re interviewing and making technologies for young kids, you also have to know how to interview adults because they’re also part of the solution inevitably.”
Tackling the challenge of existing processes
Saran Muthiah, founder of Enrich My Care UK, a digital platform that helps to manage the health and care needs of children with disabilities, spoke about the challenge of existing processes and getting through red tapes and organisational policies and barriers faced in the industry.
“What we thought is how can we start mirroring what is the current practice, however, bring value through that. We have provided as an option that healthcare professionals do not necessarily need to be registered and become part of the platform, they can simply get through some validation, security, validation, and upload records immediately,” said Muthiah.
“This also helps with automatically digitising the paper records, which is the agenda centrally both in the UK as well as in other parts of Europe. We feel that this is a good starting point. When they see the value, then we are able to get through those values and they want to be a stakeholder and want to subscribe to the platform and have better engagement with the patient.”