Beyond Entertainment: The 2011 Games for Health conference kicks off in Boston.

The 7th annual Games for Health conference began today in Boston. This conference is one of several going on now as part of Games Beyond Entertainment Week, organized by Digitalmill, Inc. and is supported by the Pioneer Portfolio of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Today’s pre-conference line-up did not disappoint – I’m only sorry that I couldn’t attend every presentation! From accessibility to sensors, prevention to rehabilitation, medical education to research, the day was packed with awesome speakers, great design and a whole lot of inspiration. Here are just a few of today’s take-aways…

1. Gaming has the potential for application in a long list of healthcare topics.

Continua Health Alliance talked about the many health gaming opportunities, including integrative health activities, simple secondary input, chronic disease care and diagnostic gaming.

2. Incentives work.

Incentivizing gaming was a practice and recommendation across the board. Continua Health Alliance provided that competitions are the greatest motivators (the speaker referenced Partners Healthcare data not available in the public domain). Group competitions were also a hot topic – they are not only highly motivating but add a social dynamic different from head-to-head rivalry. Creativity and supplying options were also mentioned as important factors in considering incentives, for example, allowing one to apply credit to a cause, or trade it in for mobile minutes, may be more motivating than cash for some.

3. Users who share their success do better.

Bill Sabram of MeYou Health talked to this point, touting the power of connection. In Monumental, MeYou Health’s free iPhone app that “takes you to the top of virtual monuments as you climb real stairs,” users can share results with other users through social plug-ins, and these users are more successful.

Tomorrow looks just as promising! So, look for more conference coverage tomorrow on Pulse + Signal and follow the hashtag #G4H11 for live news.

Bridgette (a.k.a. @bcollado)

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