Nifty Examples of Gamification in Healthcare

Gamification examplesYou’ve heard about Gamification, but what is it, exactly? 

Any time you add a game dynamic into work that you normally do, making it more engaging is gamification. Typically, these game elements include items such as levels, altruism, leaderboards, badges, points and general competition. People are madly motivated to be the “star player,” whether he/she knows the other players or not.

We are constantly are asked for examples of creative ways to apply gamification. Whether or not you’re in the healthcare industry, these examples can easily apply to you.


Engaging Patients (or Customers) With Gamification

  • Can I Help You Myself?  Can you offer your patients badges and points for attempting to get questions answered via some type of quest prior to scheduling an appointment? Maybe the patient doesn’t need an appointment. Maybe such quest will help the patient better describe the problem, which can lead to a more satisfying experience, overall.
  • Schedule Early!  What if you sent a dollar to the American Heart Association, or your philanthropy of choice, every time a patient scheduled an annual exam sooner than 4 months prior?
  • Skip Check-in Lines. Could you motivate your patients to join a queue ahead of arrival?  What type of game dynamic would motivate them to actually fill out paperwork prior to arrival?
  • Preview Waiting Times. Encourage your patients to check in on waiting times prior to arrival. It would be handy to know that Dr. Thompson is stuck delivering a baby so that you could go grab lunch prior to your visit, wouldn’t it?  Waiting, although not ideal, is ok if you set expectations and communicate.  
  • The In-Office Journey.  I’ve sat in doctor’s offices wondering, where am I going next?  Is this the last place I’ll go?  How long do I have to sit here?  Is this a nurse or a tech?  What type of game elements could be woven into the patients in-office experience that helps them better understand the shape of the visit and therefore have a better experience?

Engaging Staff with Gamification

What are some of the behaviors you’d like to instill in your staff?  Customer service? Timeliness? Resourcefulness? Frugality? Game mechanics motivate employees when you focus on a particular behavior for a relatively short period of time, such as 60-90 days.


  • Supply Management Gamification.  Some of the best examples of using gamification to shrink costs are around the use of “utility” type items.  Reducing printing, electricity use, software licensing, etc.  What types of items are used by your staff that could be reduced? Wrap some game dynamics around this issue and you’ll see cost savings.  No question.
  • Time Between Patients – Tick Tock.  Without sacrificing patient experience or accuracy, game dynamics can build awareness that we need to “move along.” 
  • Scheduling.  Are you having issues around staff scheduling?  How could you add a game dynamic to solve that issue?


The Cultural Effects

When implementing any type of game dynamics, it’s important to build context for those involved. Otherwise, you may erect a “big brother” feel, rather than a “let’s look at this issue together” culture.


Well, That’s Ugly

What would be the point of building a sophisticated patient flow system if new insights were not put to productive or constructive use? You should be prepared to address the problems identified even if they challenge popular thinking. The systems may expose workarounds that rely on inaccurate reporting of data. For example, analysis may find that some beds are empty at a given point in time but are classified as occupied. This could be a result of clinicians intentionally classifying beds as occupied in the game to reduce the number of patients entering a ward and give themselves more time to treat patients already there. You don’t want to create unintended consequences.



The second consideration here has to do with addressing the “hunting, hiding, and hoarding” of assets.  Real-time location services (RTLS) and other tracking technologies such as staff badges offer new levels of visibility into how people and assets behave and what happened in terms if location. But that visibility doesn't always show behavior in the best light. What is you really need to understand here is why someone did what they did—human factors play a big role in successes and failure here. Organizations like Geisinger and Adventist Health who have been successful at this have not taken a punitive approach. They say this ultimately boils down to determining what information is most important to your organization and thinking about measuring an outcome rather than measuring the cause.

For example, an initiative to measure the time it takes nurses to move from one assigned patient to the next might determine that nurses are taking too long between treatments or unnecessarily going to faraway medication cabinets. But a better measure would be the distance the nurses walked going from one patient to the next or stock levels of drugs in nearby cabinets.

It is natural for people to be reluctant at first to be tracked, but if you work with them to use tracking data to make their work hours more efficient in a constructive way, you'll have their full support. And that's walking a very fine line between increasing intelligence and being perceived as intrusive. You have to be consistent with your message that it's about improving operations and not penalizing people, and continually assess and evolve your organization’s cultural approach to the use of such analytics.

There are Options

Getting people engaged with an initiative to reduce costs, increase patient satisfaction or help drive health initiatives within your healthcare organization. The trick is to crystalize:

  • Your goal
  • Why it’s important
  • How

Once you’ve got this, wrap a snappy communications program, contextual learning and engaging programs around the messaging and get to work.

Interested in talking out some ideas for your environment?  We'd be happy to offer a complimentary 60 minutes to help you spark some ideas.

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Topics: Gamification