The hot concept in everything from sales to human resources is “gamification.” The idea is that if you turn an activity into a game where you can keep score, it increases engagement and improves performance. Gamification is also finding widespread use in health and medical applications, getting patients more involved and improving outcomes.

One prime example of this is Jintronix, which is a system designed for physical therapy and rehabilitation treatments for patients recovering from stroke, surgery, injury, or other conditions. The FDA cleared system is based on the inexpensive Microsoft Kinect sensor unit attached to a Windows computer that is running special software. Designed for use by physical therapists and other healthcare professionals, the system presents different activities for the patient to perform. The Kinect module tracks the patient’s movements, and the image on the screen provides visual feedback about the goal of the exercise. Not only does the system increase patient engagement for what otherwise could be repetitive, painful, and boring, but it also records precise data about the patient’s motions. This creates a detailed record of the activities and the patient’s progress. The system is even available for home therapy, so that a patient can continue the exercises without the aid of a therapist, and the data can then be forwarded to a physician or other professional.

Technology is helping bring affordable healthcare treatments to the home, making it possible for patients to engage in their therapy programs without having to travel to a clinical setting. The result is better adherence, lower costs, and improved outcomes.