Health IT and video games, do we like them the same?

Health IT can be more engaging if we give it a try

I was thinking, do people play made-for-console games on the computer still? Don’t kill me, I’ve been out of the gaming loop for over a decade.

For anyone who cringed at my genuine doubt in gaming, 155 million Americans play video games and 47% of individuals feel that computer and video games offer more value for their dollar compared to other forms of entertainment. (To your credit!) I was awed that the video game industry is still booming and it has become more social than ever. According to Entertainment Software Association, 56% of people play video games with other people.

Based on the above statistics, video games:

  • Encourage and improve socializing in the digital space
  • Create opportunities for family engagement
  • Give the user the authority to engage with them based on their own schedule

But PC video games aren’t the only takers in the online market. Did you know that as many Americans that play video games have used a select type of health IT? That includes fitness trackers, online health portals, and homecare monitoring devices. However, are people actively engaging in these opportunities? I say, no.

I imagine that seeing the engagement accomplished in the gaming industry replicated in the health IT industry would be incredibly powerful and effective. For example, 69% of parents check game ratings before making or approving of a purchase and they place limits on the amount of time their child spends playing games — yet childhood obesity is still a debilitating problem for many Americans. Why isn’t the same attentiveness exercised on a child’s health that it is on a child’s video game habits?

We’re dropping the ball. It is one thing to have health IT options available to families to cooperate together in monitoring their health; it is another thing to actually use those options. We looked at three aspects of video games above: socializing, engagement, and scheduling. These benefits are also offered by health IT options:

  • Socializing- Families can be transparent about their health with one another; they can keep each other accountable by integrating themselves on fitness trackers. They can exercise together and improve their health scores as a collective unit.
  • Engagement- Getting a one-time checkup at the doctor’s is not engaging in your health. Getting a checkup, pinpointing areas of improvement, taking steps to change them, AND tracking the results of your efforts equates to real health management.
  • Scheduling- In addition to health management, self management is key. You have the authority to use health IT to your advantage and you have the authority to get the information you need to improve your health, using it as frequently as you may need it.

I get it, monitoring your health may not be as exciting as WWE 2K16 coming to Windows PC. But we owe it to ourselves to leverage technology in our daily lives, not only for entertainment or stress relief but also for our long term health goals, too. You’ll be surprised just how imaginative health IT can be.