Østfold Hospital Trust will be the first hospital in Europe to use game technology to model and simulate the new hospital buildings and to train hospital staff in the various work processes and scenarios. The main goal is to avoid expensive downtime when the new hospital opens its doors in 2015-16.
The use of game technology in the health sector is rapidly growing. An increasing number of health institutions see the benefits of exploring game technology as a way to increase efficiency, provide better services, train staff and reduce costs.
About a year ago at Oslo Medtechs meeting on Health and Gamification,, the Østfold Hospital Trust CEO Just Ebbesen challenged his organization, the Norwegian ICT sector and in particular the Norwegian game sector to come up with innovative solutions to create a new digital arena based on game technology, designed to enable the hospital organization to be well prepared and ready to run the new five billion NOK hospital as efficient as possible.
The lessons learned from another big hospital development, Akerhus University Hospital Trust (Ahus) in Lørenskog localized outside Oslo, were the main driving forces behind Just Ebbesens innovative thinking. Ahus experienced serious and expensive downtime problems which lasted several months after the new hospital first opened in 2008, and Østfold Hospital Trust will need to avoid doing the same mistakes.
- There are 300.000 potential users of the new hospital and our main goal is to provide excellent services to our patients. The transition to a new hospital is very challenging, and one of the most important tasks is to make sure our 5000 employees are able to perform at a 100 percent level from day one. We believe that the costs of developing the digital learning platform will be significantly lower than the potential costs of downtime if the organization is not properly trained to run the new hospital.
- If this new digital gaming plattform can be put to use in other existing hospitals as well, the project profitability will be even higher. We believe there is a real need for this service, that the potential customers are willing to pay for it, and that this can be developed in to an important and growing market, says Project Manager for the Østfold Hospital innovation project “Gametechnology for Organizational Learning” Egil Utheim.
10.000 hours playing games
Most hospitals have their own training rooms and e-learning facilities. However, learning based on simulation and game technology is innovative and new and more research will have to be done to learn more about its effects and efficiency in learning situations.
One of the most important aspects to succeed is to create games that are interesting, motivating and engaging. Game research know how to facilitate this; the game designer has to create positive emotions, relations, motivation and goal-oriented achievements and learning outcomes (“serious gaming”). 20 year olds today have spent 10.000 hours playing games, not by force but by free will. There is a reason for that, says Utheim.
The use of game technology in planning, training and practicing has the potential to increase the operational efficiency in several ways: by directly redusing damages to the patients and by introducing more cost efficient solutions to deliver health services.
For example, game technology enables hospital staff to learn where to find the various functions in the new hospital, all the different tools, by moving around in the digital version of the hospital like avatars. All sorts of different scenarios can be played out and practiced, for example a critical situation in the emergency room where a group of players can prepare themselves to receive a seriously damaged patient, and practice how to cooperate in the best possible way to treat the patient.
Emergency number one
Østfold Hospital Trust is an emergency hospital, and Ebbesen has made practicing the emergency functions his priority number one with regard to the digital platform project.
- This is the most expencive part of the project, and thus the part with the most inherent risks. But at the same time, if successful, this part will also create the most value.
The game sector has been invited to bring ideas and proposals in to the project. Utheim is regularly in meetings with the various companies in the Norwegian gamification sector.
- The sector is very competent and there is a surplus of labour. We can also draw on experience in the Norwegian defence sector and also within the marine sector, which has long experience in developing ship simulators. Within the health sector, Laerdal Medical is one of the companies in the forefront, so I am confident we will find the right expertice, says Utheim
- Can you envision a broader market for the use of gamification within the health sector?
- Absolutely, different games enhancing cognitive and motoric skills are already being tested and used in the primary health services, for example with demented people and also to create physical activity for older people. The market for gamification based on serious gaming is an emergent field also for the health sector. The use of game technology makes this more efficient. The costs involved are getting lower, and there is an increasing number of components from game technology which can be used to make very good digital aids. Which is important, the number of elderly is rapidly increasing, and so are the costs of caretaking in this country.