The avatar-based app, developed in South Australia by animation studio Monkeystack for Flinders University School of Nursing and Midwifery, is an innovative ‘gamification’ of healthcare education to teach people what to look for and what actions to take in the event of a heart attack.
In the game, a friendly computerised ‘nurse’ called Cora aims to put some fun into health education with the interactive education app designed to improve potential patients’ knowledge and responses to acute heart disease symptoms through a series of easy-to-follow instructions.
Monkeystack director Justin Wight said the animation and games industries had matured and established wide acceptance in the entertainment-education space.
“By gamifying a complex issue, we’ve been able to develop the app from concept to completion for Flinders School of Nursing and Midwifery,” he said.
“It provides the perfect education – the avatar won’t forget anything – and it can work hand-in-hand with nurses.”
According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, accounting for about 17.5 million deaths in 2012. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were a result of a stroke.
Flinders University Professor of Nursing (Acute Care & Cardiovascular Research Robyn Clark said more community awareness was needed about cardiovascular disease.
She said the app was developed in response to numerous studies that showed how information technology played an important role in improving patients’ knowledge and self-management ability.
“Retention of information is far greater with an interactive app than with a printed brochure and by using the app we hope to improve knowledge, responses and ultimately save lives,” Professor Clark said.
“As well, this app paves the way to an exciting future where we can provide ever more flexible and effective ways to deliver essential education to our patients, including the reported 47 per cent of Australians suffering from functional illiteracy.”
Following a successful pilot, the app is now being tested in clinical trials at the Flinders Medical Centre with a full roll-out planned for 2017.
The six-month trial in 2015 resulted in the majority of participants reporting a high level of satisfaction with the app (87.3 per cent). Participants said the app taught them how to recognise and respond to symptoms of heart attack. Their knowledge increased by more than 15 per cent and symptom recognition increased by more than 24 per cent.
Patients who have suffered a heart attack – and their families – will be loaned a tablet device with the app before being discharged from the hospital and then for several months afterwards so they can review and refresh their knowledge on recognising symptoms.
In keeping with the goals for the app, a female actor was used for Cora’s voice.
As the voice tone of the avatar, the animation and app design took multiple factors into consideration including the overall look, font size for text and a quiz before and after the 15-minute lesson to check retention and any gaps in participants’ knowledge.
“We wanted to ensure that every generation, including the elderly, could easily follow and interpret the information,” Wight said.Jump to next article