Journal to examine gaming in health

You know a topic has arrived in healthcare or medicine when there’s a peer-reviewed journal for it. Now officially here is the field of gaming as a tool for healthcare, legitimized by the presence of a new journal, Games for Health, from well-known publisher Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

The bimonthly journal launched in July, and the first issue is due out this fall. According to Liebert’s press release: “Games are rapidly becoming an important tool for improving health behaviors ranging from healthy lifestyle habits and behavior modification to self-management of illnesses and chronic conditions to motivating and supporting physical activity. Commonly used applications include mobile phone-delivered games that track daily exercise and ‘exergames’ that require physical exertion in order to play (e.g., on platforms such as the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation Move, and Xbox Kinect). Games are also increasingly used to train healthcare professionals in methods for diagnosis, medical procedures, patient monitoring, as well as for responding to epidemics and natural disasters. ”

This is a tricky industry segment. If it’s something patients have at home such as a Wii or Xbox, they’ll use it. If it requires people to purchase new equipment or software, they may not, since the direct-to-consumer market for interactive healthcare technologies remains a tough sell beyond the hardcore fitness fanatics. If we’re talking about training clinicians, then we might be on to something.

I can’t wait to see how this develops.