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The Value of Gamification In Healthcare

Healthcare can be a slow-moving and cautious industry. That’s understandable, since it’s very exposed to multiple rapidly changing market forces, ranging from new technology to shifting care-reimbursement platforms. One area where it can’t lag, however, is the human resource-oriented areas of employee training, assessment and retention.

That’s why many organizations are turning to gamification, which brings the high-tech world of gaming as recreation into the workplace to create innovate, unique ways to engage employees and improve performance, says Lea Sorrentino, Senior Digital Strategist at HealthStream’s partner Bunchball, a solution provider in the world of gamification.

For example, one should examine employee retention. This is a key strategy objective for essentially any organization, particularly in healthcare. The problem is that that training can be very overwhelming if not administered equitably or consistently. No employee wants to feel inadequately trained, and much turnover happens because people don’t feel like they’re oriented to their job and they don’t know where to go or who to ask for help, Sorrentino says.

“Where we’ve seen gamification have a large impact is by creating a kind of self-service, self-initiated training,” she adds. “Because it clearly lays out the path of how to get from onboarding to more experienced to tenured. It shows you what you have to do next, and it provides feedback in real time of what you’re doing well or where you need to grow. It takes a lot of the ambiguity out of, ‘Where am I in my career and what do I have to do to excel in it?’ New employees often get trained but don’t know how that training is applicable to them, and don’t know how to make that training work in terms of career development. Gamification helps take that and make it much more transparent.”

Creating priorities and paths forward

How does gamification provide those interactions? By merging traditional learning with visuals to create a more immersive training and development experience, it:

  • Clearly states the activity’s priority to the overall job performance.
  • Creates a progress bar on the employee profile.
  • Creates a holistic view comparing the employee’s performance to peers, as well as newer and more senior employees.
  • Provides feedback within achievement badges so rewards come with specific input.
  • Allows for status sharing so achievements are seen by team members and supervisors.

“All of those things kind of feed you emotionally as well as provide a lot of clarity on how you’re doing within your career,” Sorrentino explains. “Those are ways that you can use game mechanics to enhance all these things that already exist and connect them to be much more uniform.”

Healthcare organizations are experiencing shifts and undertaking change management due to how quickly and how effectively they must align their staff to changes that are occurring with their organization, as well as within the industry at large. Gamification may be a new way to teach them how to be more effective and more efficient. It looks different from traditional learning models and environments, however, so employers must be prepared to work for buy-in, particularly with non-Millennial employees whose gaming experience may be limited or nonexistent.

“Nurses move in a very time-based way through their clinical ladders or to get certifications,” Sorrentino says. “With these programs [more seasoned ones] are immediately viewed as ambassadors or have higher status, which most people love whether they are a Millennial or not. They love to be thought of as a leader, and we provide recognition for previous accomplishments. That’s still going to be motivating to nurses who have worked at an organization for a long time but might not have the title of supervisor or above. They still have a bunch of knowledge, and gamification can provide acknowledgement: Look at all these certifications, look at all these years served, look at the knowledge that I have. I am now an authority in this community. That helps with engagement for people who are not Millennials.”

About Lea Sorrentino:

Lea Sorrentino is Senior Digital Strategist at Bunchball, Inc., a leading gamification solution provider and HealthStream partner, 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.

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

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