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Gaming for Patient Education



Gaming in Healthcare?

Healthcare has been going through a major transformation; integration of new business models, emerging technologies, computerization, artificial intelligence, and now gaming? Really?


It's time to embrace gaming in healthcare as another tool to achieve patients' healthcare goals.

For example, patients receiving chemotherapy. Those of us that have had chemotherapy have a love/hate relationship with the treatment. We love the fact that it is killing cancer cells, but we hate the side effects. And the side effects can be very strange and difficult to manage. I remember the repeated reminder from my chemo nurse, Mike: "Don't freak out when your urine turns red, it's a normal side effect of Adriamycin." Thank goodness for Mike's warning, or I would have been so worried! However, with all the pre-medications, stress and treatments during chemo, it is very difficult for patients to remember all that your medical team is telling you.

Oncology nurses are taking on this challenge with a creative approach; gaming. Vicki Loerzel, PhD, RN, OCN, a nurse scientist at University of Central Florida explains, "We knew that older adults have a higher symptom burden during chemotherapy. Our prior research has shown that 17 percent have nausea and vomiting, and fifty percent of readmissions in older cancer patients are for nausea, vomiting, and dehydration." Loerzel has received a National Institute of Nursing Research grant for her novel intervention to reduce the severity of these side effects. "We developed an electronic educational simulated experience using an avatar that looks just like the patient who goes through chemotherapy. The player goes through a three-day scenario making choices for the avatar that affect how they will feel during and after chemotherapy."

What Loerzel has found from talking to older adults that have been through chemotherapy is that patients did not follow evidence-based practices for various reasons. Maybe they didn't believe those strategies would work, or they thought the symptoms were temporary and would just go away. Maybe they didn't understand the importance of hydration, or even more simply, they just didn't want to take any more pills. The gaming approach overcomes these obstacles by visually reinforcing real and relevant cause and effect relationships. "Patients who have participated in the study told us that what happened in the game happened to them at home and they knew what to do to improve their symptoms."

Loerzel believes that gaming is an innovation needed for patient education and can be much more effective than handouts or other passive teaching tools. "Gaming is interactive and involves patients in their care. You can choose your adventure, you can go back to try other scenarios. With gaming, patients realize the power they have to see what happens and learn from it."

Gaming not only improves patient education but can also be expanded across other areas of healthcare. It can be used to encourage patient compliance by giving rewards for healthy behaviors, and it can teach medical and nursing students how to diagnose and treat conditions rapidly. Even healthcare administrators can learn about the downstream effects of their decisions. All of this innovation, and we have only just begun to touch on the advantages of virtual reality for patients and clinicians.

Want to open your mind about gaming in healthcare or pitch an idea for developers to work on? Join Health Innovators April 12th - 15th at the Orlando Science Center Cinedome to hear from Dr. Loerzel at "Night of Talks & Comedy - Reinventing Medicine with Gaming Tech".

Find more information at

Featured Innovators

ARCHER FRS - Founded by Orlando local, Gordon Folkes, ARCHER utilizes drone technology to support cardiac emergencies. The emergency first response system deploys a commercial-grade drone to deliver an Automated External Defibrillator (AES) device and instructions. This allows bystanders to more rapidly assist patients during sudden cardiac arrest while ambulance services are in route. Learn more at

SegAna - Based in UCF's Research Park, SegAna Phantom Technologies creates an exact 3D printed replica of a cancer patient's lung and captures breathing patterns. This copy creates a simulated, breathing lung that works exactly as it does in the individual patient. This allows oncologists to "practice" more accurately targeting the tumor in a moving lung to reduce damage to non-cancer cells during therapy. Learn more at:

Mend - An Orlando-based telemedicine platform company led by CEO, Matt McBride is paving the way to help physicians and patients connect remotely. Claiming affordability, seamless EMR integration, and positive revenue impact on MACRA:MIPS/APM Initiatives, this company seeks to transform the patient visit experience by reducing the friction of access, ease of use, and overhead tasks. Learn more at:

Upcoming Events

MeGa Health Jam - Innovate or Die

Where advanced game technologies, health, and medicine collide in a fast-paced, creative environment!

April 12-15, 2018 | GuideWell Innovation | Orlando, FL



Education on outpatient coding, billing auditing, compliance, inpatient coding and practice management.

April 8-11, 2018 | Orlando, FL


American Geriatrics Society Scientific Meeting & Exhibition

Showcases products and services for clinical geriatrics, aging research, pharma, and more.

May 3-5, 2018 | Orlando, FL

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