Are Video Games the Future of Healthcare?

Residents think of the Central Florida healthcare system as predictable. It maintains a conservative approach to practices. That was until recently, when the industry invited local video game developers to help turn things around. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story for additional details.

Caris Frazier-Baker teaches game design at Full Sail University. She also knows plenty about rare diseases as a sufferer of Marfan syndrome. Due to the characteristic way in which Marfan syndrome results in longer fingers and toes, Caris privately embraces the name Elastigirl. It’s a superhero name. Marfan syndrome affects connective tissue, and may ultimately be deadly, but that doesn’t stop Caris from having fun. She hopes to encourage others at the upcoming MeGa Health Jam.

MeGa Health Jam spans three days. In the course of a weekend, teams of developers design and showcase a game from start to finish.

The idea for the MeGa Health Jam began as an effort to reach youth where they are. Many young people spend large portions of time on devices. Healthcare and information should be one of their options for viewing.

“It took the telephone 75 years to get 50 million users,” says Dr. Shayan Vyas, telehealth director of Nemours Children’s Hospital’s CareConnect program.

Angry Birds, meanwhile reached that milestone in 35 days. Dr. Vyas sees this as proof that traditional methods are far from sustainable.

Furthermore, developers hope they will be able to reach children in a way that is engaging. They hope to use video games to make healthcare fun.

As an example, Dr. Vyas says a diabetes patients could earn points by answering trivia questions related to their disease. Correct answers, therefore earning points, reinforce the patients knowledge. This results in them gaining a better understanding of their disease.

Kunal Patel, cofounder of the group staging MeGa Health Jam, says that as gameification increases, so does its impact on industries like healthcare. His group, Indienomicon, also attempts to mix game concepts with other groups in the Central Florida region such as the space and sports industries.

While healthcare is traditionally slow to move, some experts see games and other local sources of innovation as an opportunity to improve. Events like MeGa Health Jam are just the beginning.

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