NHG looks to gaming technology to boost healthcare sector

Injecting gaming technology into the healthcare sector could be a way to help patients and staff better understand illnesses, according to the National Healthcare Group (NHG). As such, it is calling for healthcare staff across Singapore to work with developers to put forth applications and games that could be brought to market. (Reported channelnewsasia.com)

To give them the platform to achieve this, NHG officially launched the inaugural Health Innovation Technology (HIT) Challenge on Monday (Mar 28) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, in collaboration with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and Serious Games Association (SGA). Staff from any hospital can work with the SGA and IDA to develop ideas and prototypes for potential games. S$3,000 will be offered to the winning team, which will be announced in August. A Memorandum of Intent (MOI) was also signed between the NHG, IDA and SGA, to pledge their commitment to further the integration of gaming technology within Singapore’s healthcare sector.

“We’re not trying to imagine technology and then hope somebody uses it. We’re working with the community that’s using it every day, and then we’re finding ways to build it and make it very comfortable,” said Mr Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman of IDA. “The goal is the more comfortable the technology, the more it will be used. That’s why it’s a partnership between the domain experts and the technology industry.” The NHG had noted in previous studies that patients whose treatment included gameplay with various interactive scenarios retained information better. Said Dr Loh Yong Joo, head of the HIT Challenge Organising Committee at NHG: “Initially, we thought that elderly patients would not want to play games. But interestingly, of the 20-plus people that we have recruited, all of them love it after the end of the trial.”

The HIT Challenge builds on a similar competition held by NHG in 2015, which explored how games could improve patient care. Winning entries, which included an application to teach the public about healthy food choices, were on show at the launch as well.