Games for Health

The Latest Tool in the Medical Care Arsenal

At the heart of any promising plan to transform the health care system lie two priorities: broader access to care for patients, and deeper engagement in health care by patients. Although the problem of expanding access to affordable care remains unresolved, new tools for deepening consumers' engagement in health care are proliferating like viral spores in a virtual pond. Digital games, including virtual realities, computer simulations and online play, are valuable tools for fostering patient participation in health-related activities. This is why gaming is the latest tool in the arsenal to improve health outcomes: gaming makes health care fun.

Since 2008, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has invested $8.25 million in grant funding into health-related gaming through its Pioneer Portfolio of grants. Hawn interviews Paul Tarini, senior program officer for the Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio, who says: "Where you find innovation is often at the intersection of two previously unrelated fields" such as games and health, "so we started out to see if we could facilitate more of an intersection between these two fields."

The Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio supports innovative ideas in the fields of health and health care.