Gaming Techniques Help Fight Disease

Technology is a wonderful thing isn't it? Technology contributes to the fight against disease in many ways, as insights, new techniques, treatments and new drugs depend on technological progress. However, there's still the emotional element of fighting disease and the toll it can take on individuals who have to deal with painful treatments and side effects.

A recent Mashable article brought Pain Squad to our attention. Pain Squad is an iOS app that is designed for kids to help them record their pain diaries (the daily log of their experience with the disease) in an interactive way. Children undergoing chemotherapy often feel too weak, tired, or discouraged to pick up a pen and enter their data. Enter Pain Squad:

Pain Squad was designed to bring gaming concepts to the task of recording a pain diary by integrating a cop-style game with missions and rewards that encourages kids to fill out their pain diaries twice a day for two weeks.

While conducting the game, players start as "rookies" and can move up to "police chief" as they complete their regular surveys. Also, celebrities from Canadian police drama shows appear in costume to give encouragement via video messages.

Out of all this gaming and data entry, children learn what's working for them to manage their pain. At the same time valuable patient experience is gathered that can further work on finding the best treatments for the cancer the kids live with.

Making the grim a little more bearable

We applaud the Pain Squad for the innovation. The Pain Squad aligns two seemingly unconnected concepts, gaming and data entry, and brings them together. Now a very tedious task like filling out a pain diary is a game, and emotional connections with pop tv icons incent participation.  It's fun!

As we continue our work building an Open Clinical Intelligence Network to make clinical research better, gamification and challenge driven innovation are a part of the mix.  We are looking for ideas to incent participation, generate knowledge in innovative ways, and have some fun doing it.

What ideas cross your mind when you think of games and incentives to drive forward clinical research?  How would you do it?