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Posts Tagged ‘mobile health’

#HIMSS15 Hot Topic: Remote Patient Monitoring and Big Data

shutterstock_170846444I’m learning lots at HIMSS this week about remote patient monitoring. I’m very interested in the subject of harvesting data from patient monitoring devices and mashing it up with structured data about patients. I am awestruck when I consider the possibilities.

“Personal IT” and remote patient monitoring technologies (RPM) are set for incredible growth and uses that we probably can’t even imagine right now.   A recent report by New York City-based ABI Research (RPM) predicts that nearly 100 million wearable devices will ship over the next five years.

“Data has traditionally resided in silos belonging to specific applications delivered primarily by device vendors themselves. New cloud platforms capable of collecting data from a range of vendor devices and sharing it securely with a range of related parties including patients, healthcare providers, and payers will drive adoption and bring more connected devices to market,” Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research, said in a statement.

The popularity of FitBit and Jawbone have created a demand from patients to get the same functionality in medical devices. This has occurred, they say, in the continuous glucose monitoring market and in pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, and ECG monitors*. Read the rest of this post »

#HIMSS15: Reducing Readmissions with Post Discharge Text Messages

213022198-compressor Today I had the good luck to happen upon a #HIMSS15 session entitled “Improve Patient Engagement, Lower Readmissions with #mHealth.” I thought that was a bold statement to make on behalf of #mHealth. Since I’m a big sucker for a bold statement, I found myself drawn to the session like moth to flame.

The session was hosted by Richard Imbibe, CFO, and Dr. Thompson Boyd, MD at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia (approximately 300 staffed beds). Since Hahnemann was facing the same readmissions issues that all hospitals face, they wanted to experiment with the patient discharge processes with the goal of reducing readmissions. They faced a baseline readmissions rate of 26.7%, and they wanted to know what would happen if they messaged their patients post-discharge with reminders of post-discharge instructions. More specifically, they wanted to remind patients to attend their follow up appointments, which were a notable factor in whether or not a patient would be readmitted.

How the Study Worked

Hahnemann studied 368 heart failure patients because they were the “sickest of the sick”.   Read the rest of this post »

3 Patient Engagement Trends to Watch at #HIMSS15

Every year, the week of the National HIMSS conference is marked as the most exhilarating an exhausting week of the year.  The exhaustion comes from all that walking.  In fact, in this year’s #HIMSS15 Mix Tape, my contribution was that ol’ “I would walk 500 miles” songs from the 90’s.

Top 3 Reasons I'm Looking Forward to My First HIMSSFortunately, the exhilaration keeps me coming back year after year.  What do I find the most exhilarating?  Seeing just how far we have come in discussions of patient engagement as the years have past.  It’s actually one of the ways I track the progress of this topic I am so very passionate about.  I remember my first HIMSS conference, back in 2011, where patient engagement was host to nary a conversation at the conference.  Then we were much more interested in HIE and Interoperability (we still are for good reason).  Many healthcare providers at the time didn’t even have a social media profile let alone the capabilities that we have today.  With that in mind, here are three things I expect will be big themes this year in the world of patient engagement:

1. Understanding and Using Patient Data

We recently hosted a webinar entitled “A Real Retail Strategy for Healthcare“.  The healthcare industry has  looked towards the retail industry over the past few years for  strategies used to engage consumers. Lessons learned include how to use the retail setting as a medium for providing care and how to engage consumers outside of the care setting using technology.  What is often neglected is the retail core competency of using data insights to motivate and incentivize changes in consumer behavior. Connected Health solutions are, in and of themselves, streams of valuable information that can be mined and analyzed to achieve business objectives.

As a result, I will be actively looking towards data centric solutions for patient engagement problems.  Stay tuned tomorrow when we discuss the #1 Connected Health trend of 2015 (which may or may not be related to patient data).  While I am at the conference I plan to attend the information session, “Proudly Accepting Patient-Generated Health Data”.

2.  Mobile & Telehealth Takes Routine Care Outside the Brick and Mortar

One of the biggest repositories of patient generated data are found in the device 91% of the U.S. population carries around with them 24/7.  That’s right, mobile.  This year at HIMSS I am interested in innovations that will collectively make up the patient #mHealth platform, what the future of adding mobile data to the patient record looks like, and how those interactions will be used to motivate and incentivize healthy behavior.  Here are some statistics to consider as you take your 500 mile laps around the conference center:

  • 59% said mHealth will change how information on health issues is found
  • 51% said mHealth will change how providers or services send general healthcare information
  • 49% said mHealth will change their overall health management
  • 48% said mHealth would change how they manage chronic conditions
  • 48% said mHealth would change how they communicate with providers
  • 52% said mHealth would make healthcare more convenient
  • 48% said mHealth will improve healthcare quality
  • 46% said mHealth will substantially reduce healthcare costs

Expect to see me at “Reducing the Cost of Healthcare Delivery via Virtual Care” and “Improved Patient Engagement, Lower Readmissions with mHealth”.  Both sessions take place on Tuesday

3. The Next Evolution of Social Media

Early on, I mentioned that healthcare provider Healthcare provider adoption of social media was low in 2011 and 2012.  The last couple of years, we have seen a tidal shift.  Adoption had become popular over the course of 2013 and 2014 as healthcare providers adopted social media with a focus of relaying population health messaging and converting unknown consumers into patients.  In fact, this year I will be speaking at HIMSS in the “How to Convert Unknown Consumer into Patients Using Social Media” roundtable.  Stop by Room S403 on Monday at 11:30 to participate.  We will be turning the room into a social community of its own in the form of a live tweet chat using the hashtag #hcsmIRL.

So what will I be looking for in social in the next two years?  There will be another evolution of social media in healthcare. This will include the migration of consumers from large “mothership” social media sites like Facebook into private social networks. We will also see social functionality beginning to make its way into the patient portal. Lastly, analytics will be much more important to social media with direct ties to CRM and BI.

Hope to See You at HIMSS to Discuss Patient Data, Mobile Health (& Patient Data), and Social Media (& Patient Data)!

You’ve read it right.  Even though the top three trends are patient data, mobile health, and social media…each one is very much tied to a central core.  Patient data is the #HIMSS15 patient engagement mothership.  Here’s to hoping that the #1 patient engagement trend in 2016 will be the Patient Centric Data Warehouse.

Connected Health Top 10: #6 The Patient Digital #mHealth Platform

Top-Ten-300x298Patient mobile health (mHealth) is beginning to move beyond just a “cool technology” and toward more practical approaches for care delivery. According to PEW Research, over 90% of the world’s population has some type of mobile device, which makes mHealth technology an important connection point for both local and global health. This technology will bring:

  • New apps that connect patients to physicians for real-time monitoring of vital information. Innovations include heart rate, pulse, blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, body temperature, symptoms of asthma, etc.
  • Expanded use of SMS (Short Message Systems) to send health information tips and reminders to patients. Text messaging was used at a Los Angeles county hospital to motivate patients that had used the ER as their primary source of care to have increase protocol compliance and decreased use of the ER.
  • Responsive websites that act like apps fall into favor over mobile applications given that the smartphone market is still restricted to 56% of the US adult population.

Wearable technologies will be among the most compelling innovations in 2015. These will be found in both devices and clothing embedded with fiber optic sensors that can capture track patient data. One of the most important trends will be the inclusion of biofeedback as a way to engage consumers in their health.

Here are some statistics to consider:

  • 59% said mHealth will change how information on health issues is found
  • 51% said mHealth will change how providers or services send general healthcare information
  • 49% said mHealth will change their overall health management
  • 48% said mHealth would change how they manage chronic conditions
  • 48% said mHealth would change how they communicate with providers
  • 52% said mHealth would make healthcare more convenient
  • 48% said mHealth will improve healthcare quality
  • 46% said mHealth will substantially reduce healthcare costs

Wearable Technology for All

The definition of wearable technology has changed as much as technology has in the last century. In the first waves of wearable technology we got the calculator watch, you know the one, featured in back to the future. Although we have yet to see a hover board, wearable technology has gone to unbelievable heights. From the iPhone 6, to Google Glass, the bar continues to be set higher.Calculator Watch

After the Google Glass Project (smart glasses), several other companies broke into the smart wearables market, including Apple (iWatch), Samsung (Galaxy Gear), and Sony (SmartWatch) shortly after Google. Now you can buy all types of devices, including watches, glasses, headbands, wigs, rings, etc. Using apps for personal and business computing, practical everyday tasks, fitness tracking, and healthcare monitoring.

I recently, purchased a Nike Fitband, hot pink and black of course. Syncing my iPhone with the app was the easy part, however, I learned that there was minimal features of use to me and this was not something I would keep (for $129). I returned it to the store. After that, my need for quick and convenient health data continued. I fed into the buzz around the Apple Healthkit. iPhone is wearable technology that I already was utilizing. So how could I optimize this device? The first thing I noticed was that it was automatically tracking my steps! “Sweet!” I then realized there was a plethora of data analysis tools that could keep track of my health, medical history, my fitness, and my nutrition. “Sweet, times three!”

Even as a psudo-millenial, as I attempted to use the app, I could not figure out how I could get data to input automatically. After doing some internet research, I was led to a list of Apps that can work/sync with the Healthkit. I was disappointed in the list as I was hoping to use the apps I already use, and are familiar with. They were not on the list. This list of new apps didn’t give me any indication if I needed any additional wearable technology (equals more money) to make them work. Some of them are free, some not, so how was I to choose? If I could find this information in one place, I may be able to quickly decide which apps to download or which piece(s) of wearable technology I would like to gather or start collecting.

All of this wearable technology is overwhelming. And I am only digging into the personal use market these apps are not so difficult to understand, it’s how to use them all together that is confusing. This is not only a common problem with all of our personal devices. There is a large business driven market calling for this problem to be resolved. Technology management is taking off; Hospitals have wearable and wireless technology in use all over a hospital, in many medical devices. The ability to capture and manage all the data and have it at one’s fingertips is one of the fastest going industries.

I love my wearable technology, however, just as with any market has quick progression, it may get messy before it gets better. As my life will only get busier, I am looking forward to learning all the opportunities this technology can give me to streamline my life. I encourage any busy person to look into free applications, they can simplify your day to day life in a great way. Can Siri be close to a personal assistant?! Not yet, but we are close!

Creepy or Cool? A View of Connected Health in 2025

One of the fun aspects of my job is research.  I get to research the Connected Health trends to understand where the market is headed and how to then prepare healthcare organizations for those changes to capitalize off of the advantage of public health meets good timing meets technology.  I typically chart the trends out through the next ten years.  Some recent information that caught my attention include this infographic by Bupa and a study by Thomson Reuters IP & Science.  Want to know what the world of Connected Health will look like in ten years?  There will be four major themes:

the-futureMicro Mobile: The biggest net delta to be seen in the world of Connected Health between now and 2025 will be in the form of mobile technology.  Mobile capabilities will continue to be provided in smaller form providing the Healthcare industry with opportunities to, for example, use contact lenses that can take pictures of the retina to identify early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. Sensing capabilities from fiberoptics are currently being used within telehealth in the form of smart carpets that relay signals from footstep patterns.  These capabilities are forecasted to innovate into a form that could signal the possible onset of diseases such as skin cancer when applied to human skin.  Mobile capabilities imbedded in shoes, socks, and baby diapers will impact our ability to monitor weight, fitness goals, hydration, temperature, sleeping patterns, and other symptoms of illness.  Nano tattoos are already used to measure blood glucose levels.  These tattoos, that are half the width of a human hair, are expected to be able to detect precise temperature changes to indicate cardiovascular activity in the future.

Personalized Prevention: Now lets take microscopic mobile and pair it with the more prevalent DNA mapping that will occur in 2025.  Babies born in that year will be tested at the DNA level with full genomic mapping.  We are not talking once or twice.  We are talking continuously tested using nano-probes inserted in the body to identify potential onset of disease.  When it comes to the most costly chronic conditions (both in terms of dollars and hardship), a simple and inexpensive genomics test can be used to help a patient, and their team of clinicians, understand the risk of certain disease states. These individuals can then be given the right treatments and education from the start and throughout life.  Imagine the impact of this level of personalized prevention can have not only for the individual involved but for population health in terms of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and the like.

The Internet of Everywhere: The “internet of things” is defined as an environment where everyday physical objects are connected to the internet and are able to identify themselves to other devices.  We do that at some level today.  By 2025, the internet of things will be everywhere, and everything will be connected.  A report from Thomson Reuters IP & Science states “Thanks to the prevalence of improved semiconductors, graphene-carbon nanotube capacitators, cell-free networks of service antenna, and 5G technology, wireless communications will dominate everything, everywhere.”  What does that mean for Connected Health?  That means your nutrition can talk to you medication because your fridge can talk to your prescription bottles.  Really.

Continuous Data Collection & Instant Reporting: These Connected Health innovations not only provide the ability for healthcare organizations to continually monitor health conditions but also with the ability to collect and report on this data.  This can drive positive behavior change through incentivizing verifiable behaviors.  At the organizational level, this can be used to augment current loyalty programs that rely upon CRM data.  Just imagine the power this also provides to public health research programs worldwide.

Creepy or cool?  What do you think about what is to come in the world of Connected Health?

Smoking Cessation Apps are good. Text programs are even better.

We are big fans of mobile health.  Why?  Because there is 91% US adult adoption of mobile phones.  That same percent keeps their phone with them 24/7.  As a result, these billions of tiny devices the world over create a networked lifeline that can be a critical tool for healthcare.

craving_smokingThat’s why we originally wrote the post, “Texting Bridges the Mobile Health Digital Divide.”  In that piece we highlighted three great text messaging programs that are making a big difference.  Why are text messaging programs so important?  Because, while 91% of the population has a cell phone, only 56% of the population has access to a smartphone (and the health apps that come with it).  Text messaging programs are an inexpensive means to potentially reach almost the entire population if done correctly.

With that in mind, hearing of another mobile health text messaging program with great results, though not at all a surprise, makes me quite happy.  It’s called Text2Quit.  The program works by sending text messages with advice as well as telling users how much money they have saved by quitting (a big correlation to quitting, it seems).  Users can also text keywords, like CRAVE, to receive a tip to keep to their smoking cessation program or SMOKED to communicate a relapse.  The program then gives tips for getting back on track.

Want more information?  You can read about the program here and here and here.

#TexasHIMSS: Mobile Health at Rockdale Medical Center

At Texas HIMSS today I was able to view a use case for Enterprise Mobile.  That’s the term I use to describe the use of mobile devices internal to a healthcare organization.  In this case, Rockdale enabled a single point of workflow across disparate data sources and care locations to enable physicians via a mobile platform.  This platform involved native mobile OS BYOD, medical device drivers, SSO, and Security.

Infographic-Doctors-Prescribing-More-Mobile-AppsWhat drove the adoption of this mobile technology?  There were three main reasons.

  1. Supports compliant workflows: They learned that doctors were using their cellphones to take pictures of images and then texting them to other physicians that were not onsite to get their opinions.  This obviously gave compliance officers a heart burn.  So, they wanted to make the right thing the easy thing by providing a high quality mobile platform that was HIPAA compliant.
  2. Improves care coordination: Data silos are a problem.  We all know this.  This mobile platform provided physicians with access to data in a single application.  They had this access no matter where they were when they needed this data.  This expedited the speed of care in emergency situations.  I’m sure it also answered the common call from physicians: “I go from room to room to room all day. If it is not on my mobile device, then I don’t care about it.”
  3. Encourages engagement: There is 91% US adult adoption of mobile technology.  As a result, these mobile platforms leverage the use of equipment that physicians are already familiar with.  This fact encouraged engagement and interest in the program.   For those of us that make implementation of technology in healthcare a habit, easy physician adoption of technology is pretty awesome.

Analytics have shown that the technology is highly utilized by Rockdale physicians.  It has also provided a competitive advantage in their provider heavy location of Atlanta.  Among other goals, Rockdale’s next steps are to partner with their local EMS and establish objectives to improve the quality of patient care in the Emergency Department.

The Three G’s of Mapping….Is Healthcare a Leader?

Ok, it’s true.  I’m a closet geek.   I think no one knows how much I love maps. (Lesli Adams, my colleague at Perficient, often describes herself as a geek so this is homage to her).  There are so many different kinds of maps, so which ones do I favor, you ask?  I think the best maps are the three “G’s”,

  1. geospatial,
  2. genomic and
  3. geocaching.

Let me show you how all of these have relevance to healthcare:

Let’s start with geospatial. 

shutterstock_56289301I am fascinated by the heat maps of disease prevalence, patient engagement and demographics that have started to electrify Healthcare.  Duane Schafer, Director of Microsoft Business Intelligence for Perficient, recently revealed a great demo at HIMSS, based on Population Health statistics from ProHealth in Wisconsin.  Using basic tools from the Microsoft stack, Duane was able to visually map important population health statistics from ProHealth and present that data in a way that entices the viewer to explore deeper.  It allows the organization to see, at a glance, major population demographics in their region.  This can then be combined with additional analytics to determine trending of disease in the area, frequencies of patient visits to the Emergency Departments over time and correlations of missed appointments to care gaps in specific chronic disease management.   Geospatial mapping even hit the news recently when a contamination at Lake Champlain caused concern about the risk of spreading disease and therefore assisted with facilitating a rapid Public Health response in this  situation. Of course, there are many more examples but you get the idea. Read the rest of this post »

A Love Letter to Meaningful Use – #HIMSS14

It seems appropriate on Valentine’s Day to write love letters.  This is my letter of adoration to Meaningful Use.  In the past, I have written about how much time and productivity is wasted in the average physician’s office handling phone calls about prescription refills.  My physician’s office has successfully implemented their EMR software, and the patient portal is very, very handy for all of the right reasons.  I could wax poetic about the ease of checking on appointments and reviewing lab results.  The source of my real happiness is the ease of asking for refills and having the ability to route the request to the right pharmacy.  It was love at first click.

A Love Letter toInstead of calling the doctor, waiting on hold to talk to the nurse, fretting about getting the medication name and dosage right for the refill, it was magic.  I signed into the patient portal in a secure fashion, clicked on medication refills, and there was a correct list of my medications!  I selected the ones I needed refilled including a suggested number of days like 30 or 90, selected the pharmacy of my choice and Voila!  Several hours later, I received an email confirmation from the pharmacy that they were processing my order.  Now honestly, I didn’t have to see what went on behind the curtain in the doctor’s office to review my request, but I’m sure they like the elimination of potential communication errors on medications, too.

My doctor has shared with me about the financial burden of casting out his first EMR investment and starting over with a better EMR software.  I have to say that from my point of view, he clearly chose the right one and it actually fulfills the basic tenets of Meaningful Use, particularly from the patient’s point of view.  I plan to share my enthusiasm for the patient portal with him including the secure messaging that allowed me tell him that his changes in my medications worked and improved my quality of life.  This secure messaging was another plus for productivity, and patient satisfaction, because those positive responses got lost in the challenges of telephone communication in the past. Read the rest of this post »

App Annie Ranks #mHealth

app_annieFrom the fun-loving portal chap that brought us Find a Provider tools that don’t make babies cry (read: Mark Polly), I bring to you a ranking of Mobile Health apps by App Annie.  App Annie a ranking app that uses app store analytics and market intelligence to rank and visualize an app’s download, revenue, ranking, and review data.

But first some mobile health statistics:

  • 91% of US adults have adopted mobile technology (Source: Pew study)
  • 91% of adults keep their phones within arms reach 24/7 (Source: LeadersWest)
  • 75% of US adults even bring their phones to the bathroom (Source: Digiday, 2013)

As you can see, people really like their cellphones.  This love has brought us a bounty of mobile applications, and healthcare is no exception.  Here, I have listed for you, a ranking of those mobile health apps brought to you by App Annie.

Health & Living

Here we are looking at just Heath and Fitness.  Health insurance companies have been investing a great deal in this space for good reason.  As you can see, there are four large health plans that show up in the top 100 apps.  Who else is ranked in the top 50?  Think apps like Nike Fitness Club, Weight Watchers, Fitbit, Period Tracker, Baby Bump, and White Noise Lite.

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 2.57.56 PM

 

Medical

Switching over to the medical category we, not surprisingly, have Epic’s MyChart ranked #4, which is primarily charged by all of their healthcare provider customers that offer the MyChart app to their patients.  As shown below, the Mayo Clinic shows up at 106. There are 105 other medical apps more popular that the venerable Mayo Clinic.  These apps include WeedMaps, FRWeed, Epocrates.

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 3.02.56 PM

 

Other applications that are ranked higher in this category include:

  • #201: Novant Health
  • #369: Cleveland Clinic Today
  • #730: Spectrum Health
  • #818: Florida Hopsital ER Wait

The Bottom Line

So, what does this mean for hospitals and health plans considering mobile apps?  If you are a health plan, then you likely need a mobile app in order to take advantage of location services for pharmacy, find a provider, etc.  If you are a major health system, then you can also leverage the large number of potential users by providing a mobile application.  Others might consider specialized mobile applications that are specific to tasks like requesting appointments, refills, location based facility mapping, or information on specific diseases or chronic conditions.  With all of the data pouring in on the success of text messaging programs for health, you should be looking into these programs as well.

Healthcare Gamification: Avoiding Chocolate Covered Broccoli

UntitledLast week, at IBM Connect, I met an individual with the coolest title in all Profession Land: Global Lead for Serious Games.

Her name is Phaedra Boinodiris, and after sitting in on her Birds of a Feather chat, along with a post chat dinner filled with good eats and new friends, I wanted to open up the conversation a bit for all to grow and learn from the gaming knowledge stored in this firecracker of a talent.

I’ll start you off with some stats Phaedra shared:

  • Average age of a gamer:  34
  • Games designed for women: 43% of PC games and 33% in general
  • Households that play video games multiple times per week: 67%

Today your average gamer is not just some young guy locked in his mother’s basement.  Your average gamers include employees, analysts, mothers, and business professionals named Phaedra and Melody.  As Phaedra pointed out, the first game advertising, for Atari, was aimed at the whole family.  Then there was a massive shift that aimed advertising exclusively towards boys.  However, once Nintendo Wii came out you started to see advertisements for the whole family again.

Healthcare at Play

Games are great at explaining complex systems.  There are fewer places one can find complex systems than in the micro and macro worlds of healthcare.  In healthcare we’ve seen games of multiple types.  Here are some great ones:

  1. Games that help modify user behavior: Phaedra pointed out Humana’s pioneer stance in the world of serious games in healthcare with their Horsepower Challenge.  Using the craze the followed games like Dance, Dance, Revolution, Humana used “exergaming” in 2009 to challenge 20 members of Congress and 2,000 5th and 6th graders nationwide as they “raced” across the country by taking steps with a pedometer.  She also harkened back to a healthcare game I mentioned in a post back in 2011, namely Re-Mission.  In Re-Mission, a nanobot named Roxxi is injected into the human body to fight particular types of cancer at the cellular level. Those playing the game are also asked to monitor the patient’s health and report any symptoms to the fictional Dr. West.  Each level of the game informs the player on a variety of treatments and on the importance of staying compliant with medical protocol.  HopeLab trial studies, that were published in peer-reviewed journals, revealed that playing Re-Mission led to more consistent treatment adherence, faster rate of increase in cancer knowledge, and faster rate of increase in self-efficacy. Most notably are blood test results, that showed the measured level of chemotherapy drugs in blood to be higher in players versus the control group.
  2. Clinical learning labs: These are the types of gaming environments where practitioners can train in virtual learning labs on an avatar.  A great one is foldit: Solving Puzzles for Science.  foldit, funded through a University of Washington grant, is an attempt by game developers to crowdsource scientific research.  Within a few paragraphs of texts, the gamer is educated on what proteins and amino acids are and why their shapes, and what those shapes fold into, are important.  The goal is to have human “protein folders” work on proteins that do not have a known structure.  Scientists can then take folding strategies that human players have come up with while playing the game and automate those strategies to make protein-predicting software that can fight HIV and cancer more effective.  Beyond protein prediction, protein design has even more direct implications to disable a virus.  Thus far there are not many automated approaches to protein design, so foldit’s human folders are a great source of research.

This is all gamification, right?

Gamification is the term we use to describe serious games that go beyond strictly trying to entertain.  They have a “higher purpose”, so to speak.  Designers use game techniques to get players to do something not game-like at all.  The possibilities in healthcare, as shown above, are truly limitless.  However, this has brought us an industry that is absolutely flooded with games.  However, as Phaedra points out, they are crippled by one false assumption created within the foundation of many of these games.  That is:

A gamified experience includes scores, leaderboards, and badge systems.

Let’s be clear.  Games can include scores, leaderboards, and badge systems.  However, not everything that includes scores, leaderboards, and badge systems can be called a game (at least not an effective one).  Instead, they are often just Chocolate Covered Broccoli.  A user will try it out, realize this is not what they ordered, and spit it back out again.

If you want to develop a serious game that works, you must, better than anyone else, understand the purpose of your game.  You must know to whom your game is targeted.  You must devote a lot of time to figuring out what motivates your intended audience.  That understanding must be crystal clear before you even consider how the game should be designed.  Document, in detail, what your experience needs to communicate with the gamer.  What kinds of puzzles best match this experience? Then consider what type of game genre matches these puzzles.  Lastly, consider what platform would need to be used to help the gamer bring action to play.

Building a game that is based on what motivates your audience is what makes a serious game a game.  Otherwise, all you have is Chocolate Colored Broccoli.

If you are interested in gaming, a source you can check out is Phaedra’s new book “Serious Games for Business: Using Gamification to Fully Engage Consumers, Employees and Partners”, which includes contributions by another great mind I met at IBM Connect, namely Peter Fingar.