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Global Project to Develop mHealth Games for Clinical Treatment

The Panacea Gaming Platform, led by two Canadian digital health companies, aims to create mHealth games to help people diagnosed with autism or dementia, among other conditions.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- An international consortium is trying to jump-start the mHealth gaming industry with a project to develop digital health tools to help people with cognitive disabilities.

The Panacea Gaming Platform (PGP) currently consists of 18 mHealth and gaming developers from Canada, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Turkey, South Korea and Slovenia.

In two years, organizers expect to have “a suite of health games, a tracking platform that allows player data to be measured and analyzed for clinical purposes, clinical guidelines and standardization for game development, and the gaming platform itself, which can be licensed to software developers around the world.”

mHealth games have long struggled to gain traction. They’ve had some success in Europe, but in the U.S  have been limited to a handful of digital health companies and payer and provider projects targeting population health, chronic disease management and provider education.

“There are lots of smart, bright people” in the industry, Beth Bryant, of Maine-based Games for Health, told mHealthIntelligence.com earlier this year. “It’s a very competitive market, but they haven’t been able to get it going.”

PGP, meanwhile, aims to take the effort to a multinational scale, with Canada leading the way.

“[P]projects like these … have the potential to impact huge numbers of families while providing economic benefits and jobs to local economies," Robyn Henderson, founder and CEO of The Uncomplicated Family, a Canadian company leading the consortium, said in a press release.  The company will develop clinical guidelines, testing standards and quality control processes, then “work with partners in game development, testing and analysis to ensure games are safe, effective and clinically applicable.”

The Uncomplicated Family, part of Teleroo Technologies, and another Canadian company, QoC Health, are leading the effort, with funding and advisory services provided by the Canadian government through the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).

"Between the clinical expertise of The Uncomplicated Family and the technical strength of QoC Health, Canada is uniquely positioned to lead an ambitious project like the Panacea Gaming Platform," QoC Health co-founder and CEO Chancellor Crawford said in the release.

The PCP is targeting what it calls “Serious Games for Special Populations,” such as those with autism spectrum disorder or dementia. It’s estimated that 15 percent of the pediatric population and 40 percent of the elderly population fit into this category.

The project is supported by ITEA, a European program under the Eureka network that fosters so-called software-intensive systems and services that tackle global issues.

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