Video Games to Apps: A Brief History of Tech Innovations in Managing Chronic Conditions
The devices we carry with us everyday are powerful tools that have revolutionized our lives. From the way we communicate to the way we get information, our phones have changed things dramatically. While some may bemoan these changes, we also have to acknowledge the power our devices can have to make us healthier. There are apps that chime to remind you to drink water and apps that count your calories. But what if an asthma app could help you learn proper inhaler technique or help familiarize you with an asthma action plan in order to better control your asthma? Apps aren’t just for your general health anymore, and they aren’t just for adults! There are kids apps, like Wellapets, that can change behavior to help manage chronic conditions like asthma in kids.
Such apps are inspired by an established precedent of using video games to manage chronic conditions. Pamela M. Kato, EdM, PhD, describes a change in healthcare that has sparked the development of games for health: “healthcare has shifted from the care of a passive patient to one that requires patients to be empowered to manage their health.” Games can have a major role in the development of such active, healthy behaviors particularly in those with chronic conditions.
Video games and computer games were some of the original products in this arena. Douglas Goldstein of iConecto and Gaming4Health reported that there were over 600 health “e-games,” including both online and PC-based, by June 2009. A main target for these e-games were behavioral based and included things such as medication management considering medication compliance is often an issue like it is for those with asthma symptoms.
Games have proved to be very successful in affecting behavior related to wellbeing. In Debra Lieberman’s randomized clinical trial study from 2001, “children and adolescents improved their self care and reduced their emergency clinical utilization after playing health education and disease management video games,” and more specifically with asthma games: “Positive outcomes were also found in clinical trials of games for asthma self-management.”
Now that games—video, online, and mobile—have been proven to positively impact health, more and more people are seeing these games’ value and they are even being incorporated as a method of chronic disease management. As Andrew Vaterlaus-Staby for PSFK Labs says: “gameplay and mechanics are being integrated into long term treatment, recovery and fitness plans as ways to ensure that people stay motivated and adhere to their goals.”
If asthma affects your child, Wellapets can help bring these benefits to your phone or tablet. We’re live on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore now. Share your thoughts and feedback on our forum at http://www.wellapets.com