“Interactivity is considered more likely to influence a group to take action.” – Renata Schiavo

$2.6 trillion was spent on health care costs in 2014 (CDC), which accounts for 17% of the United States’ gross domestic product. This is estimated to increase to almost 20% by 2022. The estimated contributions of determinants of health:

  • Behavior and Lifestyle – 50%
  • Environmental – 20%
  • Heredity – 20%
  • Medical Care – 10%

More health dollars are spent medical care, which has the lowest contribution to “health.” With the majority of deaths in the U.S. being attributed to heart disease and medical mistakes (including patients incorrectly taking their medications, and mistakes made while receiving clinical care) estimated as one of the top 5 reasons for death, there seems to be a great potential to impact the costs of care and improvements in clinical outcomes through better health communication.

In many cases, patients are unaware of the control they have over their health. There has been a shift over time to patients placing their ability to heal in the hands of clinicians and providers. With this being the case, patients are less likely to feel empowered to take control of their health. A lack of understanding of the healthcare system and medical conditions creates a heavy burden on the healthcare industry that is not sustainable. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have been making adjustments to reimbursement policies that include reimbursement placed on a patient’s perception of the medical care they have received while in the hospital, and hospitals are penalized for having high readmission rates. Perceptions of care are based on the results of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, which includes questions based on doctor and nurse communication, communication about medications, and the information that was given to patients during discharge. Studies have indicated that physician and nurse communication can be improved by patient education and empowerment. In many cases, due to the shift in the patient/provider dynamic, a patient may feel uncomfortable asking questions about their care or questioning their provider about diseases and conditions. In regards to medication and discharge information, the information is clinical in nature and is typically not communicated in layman’s terms. Studies have indicated that game play and virtual environments have potential to improve patient empowerment and education. This coupled with the adoption of mobile technology is the foundation for SimStay.

SimStay demonstrates the application of new media and technology as a powerful communication tool that can be utilized in the healthcare industry. The combination of clinical information and casual gameplay will hopefully allow for a more effective means of communication and patient empowerment. This project will use technology to hopefully improve a patient’s experience while they receive treatment in a hospital.