Gamification as an Enabler of Mutual Learning in Complex Health Care Systems

Gamification as an Enabler of Mutual Learning in Complex Health Care Systems

Johanna Leväsluoto (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Espoo, Finland), Jouko Heikkilä (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Espoo, Finland), Joona Tuovinen (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Espoo, Finland) and Kaupo Viitanen (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Espoo, Finland)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJESMA.2016100103


In this paper, the authors present a gamified role switching method to promote dialogue and mutual learning in health care organisations facing changes in complex systems. Their research is based on two case studies in which the information exchange between the actors is crucial. 25 stakeholders were interviewed and four workshops were arranged. This study indicates that the gamified role switching method inspired and gave means for the participants to enhance systemic understanding of their organization and to improve dialogue. The role switching method also made the participants to see the situation from the other perspectives and thus promoted collaboration and the change process.
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Major challenges are emerging in the health care service system as chronic diseases are increasing and the population is ageing. New ICT solutions and citizens´ increased expectations have led to the situation where the health care system needs radical changes. New innovations and methods are needed to ensure the quality of health care services. However, at the same time, the service as a whole becomes increasingly complex and the needed change is difficult to specify and describe.

New technologies plays an important role in improving the quality of health care services and increasing its efficiency (Escobar-Rodrígues et al. 2012). It has been recognized that introduction of ICT in health care is a social process in which organization is significantly affected. Thus, it is important to understand the effects of ICT and how it can be implemented as a part of social practices (Berg et al. 2003). Noteboom and Qureshi (2014) argue that the adaptation of new technology in collaborative relationships occurs when professionals learn how new technology affects their work environment and relationships. It should also be noted that besides technological innovations new service models have significant impact on the development of a new health care systems.

Identifying the true factors that promote successful organizational change is difficult. Jorgensen et al. (2014) note that one key issue for successful change is the consistent engagement of the employees during the change process. It is also important to notice that in order to promote change, participation of different stakeholders, not only employees of the organization, is needed. There are also methods developed to promote the participation of different stakeholders. A dialogue between organizations, professionals and customers is essential in ensuring high-quality health care services. (Kivisaari et al.2004; 2013) One of the most commonly noted challenges was the underestimation of the complexity of the organization (Jorgensen et al. 2014). This is likely based on the lack of the systemic view and understanding of the intrinsic complexity of any social system (e.g. organization).

In this paper we examine the change process in organizations and whether change can be promoted through gamified solutions. Gamification is an approach used to make organizational processes more engaging and inspiring. Although the gamified health related applications in general are quite common, using gamification for mutual learning is rarely been an interest in scientific publications. The focus of gamification in our cases has been on improving mutual learning by means of role switching. Mutual learning can be achieved by creating dialogue and opening perspectives of different actors (Kivisaari et al. 2004). In our case studies we focused especially on mutual learning as a form of collaboration. The importance of a systemic view and acknowledging other actors in the management of changing systems has been noted both in the literature (Reiman et al. 2015) and in our case studies.

The following research questions guided this work:

  • Can gamified solutions inspire learning and understanding of the viewpoints of other professions and understanding systemic view of the health care organisation?

  • Can gamified solutions activate dialogue and mutual learning?

In this paper, we first describe our theoretical framework based on gamification, societal embedding of innovation and role switching. Then we present our case studies and continue to the research results. In the conclusion, we discuss the issues faced in the two cases when promoting dialogue and mutual learning. We end our paper with the final thoughts about our research.

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