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Gaming: The New Face Of Telemedicine

Service members from the U.S. Navy and Australian army help lift a Filipino women onto a bed in the intensive care unit.

Telemedicine as an extension of clinical healthcare has been around for a few years, but as a developing medical field it has been growing quickly and providing new ways of delivering healthcare to patients in a variety of settings from war, emergency situations, and disasters that affect people in other parts of the world. Telemedicine has been used to provide emergency healthcare to people affected by the 2004 Tsunami as well as the disaster following the earthquake in Haiti. Technology has always been the driving force of telemedicine, and recently doctors and researchers have been looking into online gaming as a way to further expand the capabilities of telemedicine.

Telemedicine utilizes information and communication technologies to provide clinical healthcare to people at distances from that healthcare. It uses the connecting power of communication technologies along with televideo services and handheld diagnostic tools to give doctors and specialists the information they need to give diagnoses and formulate treatments when factors like distance are a serious concern and hazards are a serious impediment. The delivery of information over the internet through wireless and broadband networks has made this uniquely possible. Recently, a study conducted through Johns Hopkins University determined whether or not another kind of technology, video game systems, could be used to deliver in-home clinical healthcare to patients with chronic diseases.

Video games have been explored as a vehicle for more practical applications for some time now. Video games offer a rich field of applicability since the population of people playing video games is growing. It is no longer seen as the province of dedicated players. Now games are played casually and seriously by people of all levels, and as the population ages, more and more people will be comfortable and familiar with using the video game interface. Each new generation of video game console’s platforms getting technology better, and the tools and applications that are developed solely for gaming on these platforms also gets more sophisticated every year. The attraction for researchers in using video game platforms for telemedicine services is the reduction of cost. Many of the diagnostic tools that are used in telemedicine are quite expensive, and it is cheaper to develop applications that use existing resources like video game consoles rather than developing a new device from the ground up.

This study in particular used all three current generation video game consoles to develop a Home Automated Telemanagement system that patients used in their home. Since the current generation of video game consoles have both web browsers and the capabilities to send information over the internet, the researchers looked at developing an application that could take advantage of this to send information to doctors. The HAT system worked much like a game, except that instead of shooting zombies, the application questioned the user about their condition, monitored their vital signs, and provided immediate feedback about their chronic condition. That information was then relayed to a central server where it could be accessed by doctors to provide real time clinical support. The researchers found that they could develop a platform that people with zero gaming experience could easily use.

The exciting notion behind a convergence of video game technology and telemedicine is that no one will really be able to imagine what healthcare delivery and management will look like in 50 years. Technology has been improving quickly and expanding exponentially. No one playing Pacman 30 years ago could have imagined how video games are being used today.

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  1. Evan

    February 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Telehealth is a game-changer in healthcare. In my opinion, the more publicity it gets, the better. Telemedicine offers a smart solution for improving healthcare and wellness, while lowering the cost of care delivery. For both providers and patients, the list of benefits is impressive.

  2. Donna Spears

    February 5, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Telemedicine is pretty impressive indeed. Especially in the times of emergency situations.
    Kudos to the Telemedicine!

  3. Matt

    February 5, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I don’t understand the concept of telemedicine and reading this long article wont do me any good. Thanks though.

  4. sanchit

    February 5, 2013 at 8:27 am

    hi nick,
    thanks for sharing such a nice and knowledgeable blog.
    I am not aware about this before this blog.

  5. Sarah Park

    February 5, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Telemedicine in gaming is another wonderful and exciting innovation in science and technology. This will surely help in having telemedicine more accessible and known to the public.

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  14. Jack Smith

    May 31, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Thank you for one more crucial write-up. Where else could anybody get that type of info in these a full way of writing? I have a presentation incoming week, and I’m around the lookout for this kind of information.

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