It’s happiness, stupid!

  • Posted on 17.10.2017

It’s happiness, stupid!


Jurriaan van Rijswijk

Founder and Chairman


Jurriaan van Rijswijk (Msc): Founder and chairman ‘Games for Health Europe’ Eindhoven, October, 5th 2017

‘Games for Health Europe’ wants to stimulate a paradigm shift in healthcare. Consider happiness as a positive condition for good health instead of the other way around.  In healthcare, patients can be faced with considerable adversity; healthcare professionals sometimes work in challenging conditions and have to cope with difficult decisions. Global healthcare cost is rising steadily; shortage of healthcare professionals tends to turn into a disaster. Drastic transformation is needed. In terms of Richard Layard’s happiness economics, patients’ wellbeing has to prevail over sickness.

Unhappiness has a negative impact on individuals and society. It is obvious, unhappy people are more demanding, therefore, healthcare becomes more costly and time consuming. Maximising happiness is of real value. As we move to embrace Michal Porter’s value-based healthcare, we must strive to increase contentment among patients and other healthcare players, in order to achieve a sustainable and affordable healthcare system.

Serious gaming can help. Playing is an evolutionary successful strategy for learning, behavioural change, and so for transformation. And above all, play is in human’s DNA. We don’t learn how to cycle by reading a book! That’s why we design serious games and improve the lives of patients by solving today’s healthcare challenges in innovative ways.

Take medication adherence, for example. If patients do not take their prescribed medications every day, it can have serious consequences for them and lead to higher costs for the healthcare system. EntertainR helps chronic patients to remind them for their daily medication intake. Elderly like to play games, like crossword puzzles. Isn’t it fun to participate in the world’s largest crossword puzzle? In order to join this game, simply scan the medication package, and you are in. Meanwhile you are reminded to take your daily dosage. Isn’t it that simple?

It’s not just smartphone apps that can provide useful and instant information. The spread of a virus has several theoretical models. None has been proven in practice. The LowlandZ Zombie App supports scientific research to validate these theoretical models and will result in better models for the prediction and prevention of viruses.

Kids are well-suited to serious games. New speech therapy apps for the iPad can help children with Schisis (cleft lip) to improve their pronunciation. Incorrect and correct pronunciation will result in playful interactions with kids and their parents. The young patient by that is in control of its own pace and therapy.

Serious gaming works for professional medical education too. Physicians need to have a lot of knowledge and they also need to have experience of diverse case studies. PatientZero is a clinical training game for physicians and medical students at the emergency department that presents physicians with fifty different patient cases. In the daily hectic of the ED, they learn appropriate decision making, while errors in playing will not immediately result in the death of a patient. Games like these are already being integrated into medical school curriculum.

And there are many more examples – in rehabilitation, training and lifestyle interventions such as smoking cessation and exercise. All of which deliver value for individuals, for society and for the healthcare system. Games will substantially contribute to a sustainable and affordable healthcare system. The combination of fun and seriousness will make the world happier. So, join us!

This blog is part of the MedTech Forum blog series. Jurriaan van Rijswijk will be speaking at the MedTech Forum 2018. You can follow the conversation under #MTF2018 and find more details at


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