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Examining health-care providers' perceptions of health games

Over at MobiHealthNews, there's a thoughtful discussion about the road ahead for health games, which include a range of applications and devices that leverage social-gaming concepts to help users improve their  health.

The post offers an overview of a panel from the recent mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. and touches on a number of challenges that, so far, have prevented health-care providers from accepting games as effective prevention tools and from adopting them in their practice. Chris Gullo writes:

Dr Ravi Komatireddy's speech examined health games from the clinicians perspective. There are four main issues in physician adoption: efficacy, applicability, perception, and guidance. Efficacy received a positive nod, with Komatireddy noting work done so far by researchers like [Debra Lieberman, PhD,] in proving the effectiveness of health games. Despite this, there are still hurdles to overcome. "In healthcare, we're slow. We're like toddlers, we like to break things, we're skeptical, and we're really slow to change," he said. "Some of the responses we get from clinicians [about games for health] are: 'Isn't this silly? Is this really applicable to my patients?', even though there's lots of supporting [efficacy] data and everyone's got mobile phones."


Finally, Komatireddy spoke on guidance and how games would integrated into medical curriculum. "Where's the how to manual for games for health? As a physician talking to a patient, what do I tell them to go play? Do I prescribe it, or does my nurse do it? What if that game shows improved performance in tracking diabetes? Is someone supposed to get a hold of [the patient]? Is that information dangerous? These are the questions that come up in the clinical world. I'm a believer; I want to use this stuff. But how do you assure me that those problems won't exist?"

These questions have been raised in other settings as well, and it will be interesting to see what partnerships arise between physicians and developers to provide some answers. Ongoing studies by researchers from universities across the U.S., and additional research underway at Stanford, may prove helpful in resolving these issues.

Previously: Eat a carrot and exercise - or your iBird dies, Mobile devices help remove barriers to fresh food and Mobile phone app helps manage diabetes
Photo by: Mat Honan

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