It’s always great when new jobs are created on the back of technological innovation. Something like this has happened recently at US firm UnitedHealth Group, a large diversified healthcare company that recently appointed Arrianne Hoyland as its first ever Game Producer.
I had a chance to chat to Arrianne about her role and the wider opportunities to use gamification in healthcare.
Toby: Are you the first game producer at United Health? What’s your exact title?
Arrianne: Happy to say yes I am; I operate out of the UnitedHealth Group IT, Innovation Research & Development division and, yes, my business card says “Game Producer”.
Toby: How do colleagues react to you?
Arrianne: Colleagues react positively; they mainly associate it with innovation, though some start puzzled. Many quietly take me aside and ask how they can get involved with the gaming team!
Toby: What’s the link between games and gamification? Are you more of a gamification producer than a game producer?
Arrianne: There are 3 pillars to our gaming program within UnitedHealth Group. These are:
Game play – playing an actual game that is health-related. This might cover exergaming – for example, where we have been conducting a clinical trial, adding an ‘exergaming’ (games that get you to actually move) component to our existing weight management intervention program, JOIN for ME. Classes are held at YMCA’s and other community centers to see if they encourage young people to be more active. In the case of childhood obesity, we’d like to turn a “No” activity into a “Yes” activity.
Gamification – applying game mechanics and game psychology to make better experiences. This would include our Baby Blocks application for pregnant moms enrolled in Medicaid to help encourage them to schedule, and keep, necessary appointments, whether on their behalf or for the babies. We incentivise with either gifts for moms (an Old Navy card for example) or the baby (a teething rattle…).
Game technology – adapting tracking sensors, such as Microsoft’s Kinect, to make healthcare work better.
Toby: Have you thought about leaderboarding the Baby Block mum communities? (unashamed plug for leaderboarded!)
Arrianne: Definitely – there’s a real sense of community among moms.
Toby: What do you see as the big opportunities for gamification of health in next 2 years?
Arrianne: As a part of the UnitedHealth Group Futurist team, I can see the gamification of health continuing to increase consumer engagement in their health care by providing more useful, valuable and interesting experiences. We would like to ‘clear the fog’ so that consumers can navigate more effectively on their healthcare journey. We are dedicated to making health care more useful, valuable, and interactive for the people we serve, and clearly games and gamificaiton can play an important role in the process.