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What Is Gamification And Why Does It Matter In Healthcare?

Ever play an interactive game where continual improvements in skill and knowledge lead to rewards and advancement? Most of us have, and the multibillion-dollar gaming industry is testament to the enduring draw of innovative, challenging games that foster both individual achievement and teamwork. And it’s the position of Lea Sorrentino, Senior Digital Strategist at Bunchball, that the gaming world has much to offer the healthcare workplace when it comes to employee learning, engagement, and advancement.

Bunchball is a solution provider in the world of gamification, which takes many of the benefits of gaming and uses them to foster growth and development in the business world. It’s an adaptable model that can benefit multiple industries, including healthcare, Lea says.

“Gamification uses game mechanics, things like points or badges or concepts like progress or perks or status,” she explains. “Instead of thinking about them for a specific objective, gamification uses those game mechanics and dynamics to apply them to real-world applications and activities. Gamification provides clarity and direction to activities that we’re already performing. Think of a Fitbit; most people are already walking, they’re already sleeping, they’re already exercising. What gamification does for an activity tracker is it provides more clarity and direction to those things that we’re already doing.”

There are all different types of games, each with its own strategy for success. Underneath that overall goal lies those of skill improvement and advancement. That’s why Lea says gamification succeeds in industries and activities including:

  • Call centers
  • Partner channels
  • Shopping apps
  • Employee onboarding
  • Customer onboarding

“I think one of the biggest value with gamification is it makes it really easy to onboard people to a new experience,” she says. “Gamification provides a lot of consistent feedback on performance. For example, a shopping app is a place where people might not expect gamification. You’re going through it and it’s directing you to go to this place or to check in at this store and all the while it’s actually a gamified experience moving you from A to B. It’s showing somebody how to use the application properly, how to get the most value from it, see how to benefit from participation.”

Gamification enhances learning by creating goals

It also provides tangible benefits to the user, which motivates them to do more, or work harder, to master the current goal in order to advance, or to better the community the user is engaged in.

“All of these different concepts which drive us in everyday life, that’s where gamification taps into,” Lea explains. “Instead of performing a job of I have to do this. That’s what turns it to, ‘I want to do this because I understand how it applies to the things that I care about.’ That’s what I think is the real power of gamification.”

In the healthcare world, gamification has appeal for both onboarding and ongoing learning. The industry is still very reliant on printed materials for both on-the-job feedback as well as continuing education, and gamification could modernize those practices to the benefit of all involved, Lea says.

“A lot of professionals and the systems that they’re using still rely on a printed-manual process. That puts a lot of burden on how often teams, whether that is nurses or administrators or doctors, are receiving feedback on performance,” she says. “What I think gamification does for this particular industry is create a self-service and automated process. I believe that will help learning and development as well as retention within the healthcare industry.”

“When people are more informed about what’s happening in their environment, when they know how to progress or how to learn, they can effect change,” she continues. “They’re more committed to their career, and they’re more satisfied with their job performance and the quality of their life. With gamification, a healthcare professional doesn’t have to wait to know how they’re performing. They don’t have to wait to know what’s next. They’re able to really harness that data themselves and be able to see how they affect their own journey.”

This blog post is taken from a HealthStream Second Opinions Podcast that was recorded recently. To hear Lea’s full discussion, click here.

 About Lia Sorrentino:

Lea Sorrentino is Senior Digital Strategist at HealthStream’s partner, Bunchball, Inc., a leading gamification solution provider, where she has worked with Fortune 500 clients across multiple industries to help them focus on supporting and maximizing consumer and employee engagement. Sorrentino has more than seven years of strategy experience servicing notable customers like Urban Outfitters, Cisco, Volkswagen, Marriott, Honeywell, FedEx, United and Cargill. She also is a multi-media artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

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