As technology advances, how is the healthcare sector using games to treat and diagnose patients?
We can witness with each passing day how technology has evolved over the years. Technical advancements have changed our lives and helped industries to evolve and grow — and the healthcare sector is no different.
The world of healthcare has benefited greatly by the introduction of new technologies, be it diagnostic tools, kits in pathological labs, operative equipment in operation theatres, or sleek and handy blood and glucose monitoring devices. Additionally, technological advances have even changed the way healthcare providers operate. The rise of smartphones, the popularity of healthcare apps, and the incredible growth of mobile internet helps many healthcare providers now to treat, advise, and counsel patients remotely.
The benefits don’t end there. Healthcare providers can also use technology to participate globally in case study discussions and to provide suggestions on medical regimens. Many standard drug informatics organizations have bundled their data into an app. Other than the different apps and web-based systems for treatment, counseling and patient adherence, there are other facets of healthcare, such as research and development, where unique advances of technology have truly stunned our industry.
One area of technological evolvement that we at phamax are particularly passionate about is that of gamification: how it is used, and how it might be used as the years go by. In the blog, you will get a snapshot of medical games and how they have found niches as alternative treatments for certain disorders through clinical trials and proven data that is scrutinized by regulatory authorities.
Clinical games involve the adoption of design elements from traditional games to engage and motivate patients. The games are then used to help treat and diagnose patients in a number of ways.
Recently, clinical games have been designed and focused to understand certain neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. To achieve this goal, the games were generated to boost memory and build reflexes in a fun way.
When it comes to therapeutic areas, the majority of the medical games and clinical research focus almost exclusively on Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders. These scientifically-designed video games are created to improve mental ability, influence patient behavior, and improve reasoning strength.
One notable company which focuses on “building clinically-validated cognitive therapeutics, assessments, and diagnostics that look and feel like high-quality video games” is Akili Interactive Labs. Akili has partnered major pharma companies to conduct various clinical trials on medical games, successfully submitting clinical trials data to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Akili developed a flying object-based game called Evo Project, it diagnoses mental disorders like ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Autism and Depression, by in-built scientific and interactive design which improves cognitive control. The same studio developed NeuroRacer. NeuroRacer was designed to help older patients with mental cognition, and a study has shown that the game causes improvements in memory and sustained attention. The study also shows how patterns of brain activity change as these cognitive skills improve.
Visual impairment and issues underlying early detection are critical concerns for patients and ophthalmologists. Tilak Healthcare designed a video game that monitors visual parameters of clinical relevance for patients suffering from macular diseases. In turn, this game helps ophthalmologists detect visual impairments that may turn into chronic diseases like Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Diabetic Retinopathy. Results are posted on a web-based dashboard, which can be accessed by physicians for further decision making. The efforts and zeal put into creating such games indicate that clinical games can become biomarkers for cognitive disorders, which have the potential to lead to new treatments.
The advancement of technology has encouraged investors to bet on innovations. Pharma companies are ready to try new things and patients are finding it fun to get treated. We really have to ask: why are we not seeing any prescriptions for video games? Well, the reason boils down to the lengthy pharmaceutical regulatory affairs approval process.
The usual drug approval process is remarkably lengthy. Stringent assessment is required to claim clinical games are valuable therapeutic or diagnostic tools. It is a humongous task to design and manage the trials, considering the requirements for regulatory considerations (comparative, scientific, and, population-based data). Though, if this is addressed by a continuous collaboration of game designers, pharmaceutical companies, and regulators, it will be wonderful to see video games on the Rx list in the near future.
Overall, these discussions and research will surely benefit from the innovative tool arena, and clinical games will synergize both the digital and medical worlds. They have the potential to benefit the patients and, perhaps, generate valuable, organized data that will assist future market access concerns. It is very likely that we will witness a time when we will have safe, efficacious, therapeutic video games in clinics.