Healthcare marketing AKA games AKA interaction design

When I started writing this post, it was about marketing trends in healthcare. Rereading the draft, I realized they were actually gaming trends, and that they apply to interaction design in general. But those are all just surface key words. The reason these ideas resonated with me is because of the opportunities they open up for forward-looking and people-focused designers.

Movement

The following caught my eye in this post about gamechanging trends in healthcare marketing (pun not intended, I’m sure):

Kinect SDK could open the door to the next big thing in UX: This is a fantastic one – Earlier this month, Microsoft released a software development kit for its motion-controlled gaming system Kinect. That means third parties (like us) will be able to develop games and experiences that work on Kinect. You can imagine how this could reinvent how we think about UX. Today, most of the experience revolution is happening on the touch screen (in the apps and tools we’re developing of iPads and other slates.) Kinect opens up the potential of creating motion-based interfaces that connect with real-world human behavior.

Many of the early announcements around the Kinect SDK include examples alluding to Minority Report and Wall-E, and paint pictures of its use in people’s homes or offices. But I’m much more intrigued by the idea of something like this in a hospital or a doctor’s office, where there is a lot of natural movement and interpersonal connection. Motion-based interfaces remove the middlemen screens that come between many of our existing people-to-people interactions, as we move further toward the internet of things.

Education

The first post led me to this one about what the Madden NFL Game can teach us about healthcare education/awareness campaigns. Instead of PSA’s, posters, and Facebook pages, let’s embed messages where they make the most sense and meet people where they are. That phrase gets tossed around a lot in my world because I value the idea, and this is a great example of that.

Instead of creating a PSA about concussions during football games and encouraging people to sit out after receiving one, NFL Madden from EA Sports started incorporating the scenario into their video game.

…the folks that developed the game recognized an issue with their sport and the well-being of its athletes and they chose their game as a means to address that. The reasons why this will probably be the most effective way to educate kids about concussions are simple. First, you’ll reach a huge proportion of them where they are (opposite signs in a doctor’s office) and likely disproportionately reach actual football players too. You put the injury in context of something they can understand. That is, if a concussion happens to your player in the game, you see the effects in real-time. You see the impact and the announcers reinforce it. As a player, you can’t help but absorb this, as the game stops for a moment while a replacement comes into the game. What will eventually happen is that players of the game will alter how they play the game to reduce the chances that their key players end up with a concussion (Madden NFL developers plan to make certain hits in the game result more often in concussions). Consciously and subconsciously this changes the way you think about the real game of football as a player too.

This will work to educate the people that matter: football players, coaches, and parents of football players (who also will be playing the game). It will work because it will reach this audience where they are, with a message that is very much in context of what they are doing at that moment, at a time when they are receptive (whether they know it or not) to receiving this message, and in a form that’s simple to understand with clear cause and effect.