Gamification and privacy in Health Social Media

Twitterview by Diario Médico (@diariomedico), a Spanish daily journal of health and medicine, with Luis Fernández Luque (@luisluque), founding partner of Salumedia, and a researcher at the Northern Research Institute, Tromso, Norway.

There is a new word that is used more and more frequently: "gamification".

According to Wikipedia, gamification means using mechanics and designs of games in different environments, such as websites, learning, work, etc. Gamification is applied in programs and processes that have nothing to do with videogames, but it uses the psychological factors of games to motivate people.
 
The overall objective is to influence and motivate users to achieve desired habits and goals. To do this, the player is encouraged to participate, share and interact in an activity individually or within a community. Gamification is an effective, dynamic and rich experience that can be used to perform a variety of objectives in all kinds of fields and sectors.
 
In an interview with @luisluque about gamification, he says that “in gamification you take ideas from games and you put them in other context. For example in restaurants in Japan after eating a dish, when you put your finished plate on a collector you may win a small prize after certain amount of plates.” Another example is Foldit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foldit , which is a puzzle to combine proteins.

 
To the question of health gamification @luisluque mentions that there are lots of examples, both for patients and healthcare professional
s.
Margaret Hansen from the University of San Francisco (USFC), California, USA, designed a game for ECG lecture.http://www.m2hnursing.com/flash/ecg_activity.html 
Games that adapt virtual flowers, thus inspiring you to exercise http://flowie.info/ 
Simulations of clinical situations have been used extensively for training http://www.sph.umn.edu/research/u-seee/ 
 

A very interesting example for patients is DIDGET that combines glucometer and video console for diabetes education http://www.bayerdidget.ca/ 
 
In regard to the usability of games @luisluque admits that to give the playful effect on games is difficult - users get bored and stop playing, as also found out by a study http://www.jmir.org/2005/1/e11/ 
 

Another use for games is monitoring patients, such as diabetes http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20807119 
 
To change behavior, to accept and use new applications, in addition to the help of psychologists, persuasive technologies can be used http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2649327/.
 
It is also notable that the success of any game depends on being fun and tailored to the needs of users. For example, in the case of Nintendo Wii™ there is a risk for elderly patients to suffer falls, and thus fractures, trauma, etc.


@diariomedico: Question, do doctors prescribe games? @luisluque thinks it would be good but there is no proven efficiency for games. However, there are already success stories that may be prescribed.

In regard to patient privacy in social media @luisluque emphasizes that it is a very serious problem, and that there are cases in which healthcare professionals published patient information on the Internet. In a study of healthcare professionals’ blogs it was found out that 10% spoke and published photos of patients http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18649110 .
Another case was doctors in Haiti, or the case of a company who broke into the website of http://www.patientslikeme.com/ 
To avoid cases like this it is better to know our rights as patients and use them whenever possible.