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Behavioural Science Integrations Changing the Game in Digital Patient Care

May 05, 2021

Technology has always played an important role in healthcare. From the very first computerised physician ordering system in the 70s to Blockchain technology and Robotics Process Automation today, technology holds the key to transform our healthcare system. This is particularly true when it comes to behavioural science. Infiltrating both mobile and clinical patient care, behavioural science integrations are making a difference in the novel patient experience and modernising core technologies.

This article explores:

  • The role of behavioural science in healthcare
  • Promising trends in digital patient care 
  • Noteworthy examples of behavioural technology applications


Healthcare providers, with the help of behavioural economists, have developed health gamification technologies that incentivise good health practices. Techniques such as: targeted diet programs, competitive fitness maintenance schemes, rewarded consistent medication, and online support groups for smoking and drug rehabilitation are becoming popular and significantly motivate behaviour modifications. Not only do these strategies improve patient experiences, they are also significantly effective for health practitioners too – optimising data collection, patient monitoring, and service speeds [2].

A few notable examples of gamified healthcare technologies are Mango Health – a smartphone application that tracks, reminds and rewards punctual medication intake, and  Vivofit Jr., a mobile app that encourages and incentivises proper sleep, recommended activities, and good healthcare practices in pediatrics. 

Virtual Reality

According to the Uncertainty Reduction Theory, people are more inclined to engage more in interactions and processes when they are more certain of the process as well as the outcomes [3]. This concept also transcends to healthcare. When patients are able to visualise medical procedures and outcomes, they are more likely to undertake them. The same goes for practitioners. Combining this inclination with the fact that interactive environments are also known to be more attractive and conducive to faster recovery, it makes sense for healthcare institutions to seek the technology that maximises both concepts – Virtual Reality.

VR and Behavioural Science

Virtual Reality (VR) is stepping up patient care and medical practice with its simulations. With surgery walkthroughs for patients, educational and practical simulated operations for practitioners, virtual therapy and rehabilitation, and even virtual consultations and conferences, this technology has been leveraging the patient and physician experiences since its medical adaptation [4 & 5].

Some of the successful models for VR in health are the GestureTek Health’s VR exercise programs that enable patients to safely interact with engaging virtual surroundings and RCSI Medical Training Sim’s simulations for cost- and risk-free physician training.

Collaborative Digital Care

It is widely recognised, both in the medical and behavioural science fields, that communities in health and patient care are indispensable. Several studies accredit improvements in recovery speed and mental well-being of patients to communities where collaborative care is key [6 & 7]. The industry, upon discovering this, is aligning its efforts and promoting community care in a more modern fashion – thus, the dawn of collaborative digital care.

Applications like the Goochland County Community Care App based in the USA, are revolutionising patient monitoring and assistance by allowing third parties to track, engage, and participate in digital patient care – creating a more supportive, holistic, and personal program for users by developing a digital culture and capability.

Visual Reporting and Mobile Medical Photography

Back in the 80s, bulky hospital equipment and long queues to use them were a lot more tolerable because of the relatively slower pace of the analogue age and lack of choices. However, in the rapidly developing digital age that domesticated an on-the-go-generation, traditional medical photography and basic consultations are no longer worth the wait [8].  

Intuitively, the healthcare industry has forged a way around time-consuming appointments. With more patients needing access to quick and convenient consultations, pioneers in the business have created and are promoting virtual consultations and DIY medical photography with innovative apps. With timely innovations of applications like MDLive (an online non-emergency consultation app) and Rx Photo (a guided mobile medical photography app), it’s no wonder why mobile is taking the medical world by storm.


[1] AJMC, “The Gamification of Healthcare: Emergence of the Digital Practitioner?”, 2019
[2] Digital Commerce 360, “Modernizing patient access through digital engagement”, 2019
[3] Bartleby Research, “Uncertainty Reduction Theory Of Health Communication”, 2020
[4] The Medical Futurist, “5 Ways Medical Virtual Reality Is Already Changing Healthcare”, 2020
[5] Virtualise, “Virtual Reality in Healthcare”, 2020
[6] Health Science Journal, “The Contribution of Family in the Care of Patients in the hospital”, 2020
[7] JMIR Publications, “Using Patient and Family Engagement Strategies to Improve Outcomes of Health Information Technology Initiatives: Scoping Review”, 2019
[8] Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, “Millennials and Healthcare Benefits”, 2018

Other references:
The Medical Futurist, “The Top 15 Examples of Gamification in Healthcare”, 2017



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