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The Effects of Gamification on the Health Care Industry

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Game mechanics and gamification were brought into the health care industry to build employee engagement and motivation. These techniques take advantage of the basic human psychology playing on ones desire to win.

Socially focused and competition-based initiatives could easily combine with mobile apps and activity challenges becoming readily embraced by individuals and organizations alike.

Neatly packaged for fun and to spark a competitive spirit, programs incorporating game mechanics are often equipped with communication tools for competing against other feature points and users, leaderboards and levels that allow comparisons between various teams and/or people.

They tap into the natural human desire for pride and achievement and to receive praise and approval from others. In short, gamification takes advantage of our natural human affinity for competition, aiming to inspire by directing people to healthier behaviors.

Do these gaming strategies work? What is the long term legacy?

Healthy Workforce Games

According to the Towers Watson survey report, sponsoring the competition in 2013, among employee groups was top in the tactics used by companies’ lists encouraging participation in wellness programs.

It was followed by affinity groups sponsorship (support groups, running groups, healthy family activities), and promotion of mobile apps. Organizations seemed to believe in co-opetition firmly – a neologism for cooperative competition – to bring results and to keep workers healthy and fit.

According to studies in the behavioral science field gamification of wellness and health attempts don’t bring desired results always. The problem is that gamification drives motivation only in a superficial way resulting in fleeting when the ”game” is over. It’s argued that some psychological factors should be considered for this approach to offer long-term success.

For example, considering the participants’ value and allowing flexibility to earn incentives should all be incorporated as well in the program.

Patient Self-Management and Gamification

Effective management of chronic disease relies on self-care and patient awareness. The applied gamification with mobile health apps is nowadays explored as a means of facilitating patients’ self-management. In types 1 and 2 diabetes, digital games have been used as part of interventions for health. Gamification behavior change helps various groups of people, more so children and adolescents to cope with the disease and alter their lifestyles in support of healthy alternatives. The Heart Foundation use gamification to engage their users better, hoping to achieve behavioral changes since they are challenging to promote.

Chasing Superiority Could Lead to Unhappiness

Several prominent psychologists show out that comparing and competing could disconnect people leading to excessive materialism and envy, which eventually makes one unhappy. Tom Gilovich, a psychology professor at the University of Cornell, explained that dominating other people by trying to be way much better than them could cause a separation feeling that is unlikely to assist contribute to a well-being sense.

The approach that is likely to be more successful is to help other people without expectations, as Whatron’s youngest tenured professor Adam Grant demonstrates in his book ‘’Give and Take.’’ Although people who give frequently could burn out, those that strategically give are likely to thrive. The positive psychology science and happiness drive away from co-opetition and competition, pointing towards helping each other, building connections, and to pursue what aligns with a personal sense of purpose.

Furthermore, introducing point systems, badges, challenges, leaderboards, and quests will not automatically draw people to stick to a program or make them observe healthy behavior.

It appears like gamification has a place that could help motivate people in some particular situations. Careful thought and commitment are, however, required to utilize the potential in a sustainable way of promoting health when game mechanics are used to strategizing behavior change design.

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A New way around Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

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Researchers at Purdue University have created a powerful compound that specifically tackles Tuberculosis, a leading killer worldwide.

The scientists came up with a series of inhibitors that destroy TB by targeting a protein necessary for the survival of the TB molecule.

Tuberculosis destabilizes the immunity of patients with the help of Protein Tyrosine Phosphates B (mPTPB). Their findings were published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

“The death toll from TB is particularly high because of drug-resistant strains,” said Zhong-Yin Zhang, distinguished professor and head of Purdue’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and director of Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery. “These inhibitors are part of a promising new approach to developing TB therapeutic agents with novel targets and mechanisms of action to help save more lives.”

Right now, doctors rely on antibiotic preparations to treat Tuberculosis. The problem is that many patients don’t complete their dose of antibiotics and this non-adherence leads to the development of drug resistant tuberculosis.

“We developed a platform to target mPTPB for novel anti-TB agents that builds on technologies we pioneered to modulate abnormal protein tyrosine phosphatase activity for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disorders,” Zhang elaborated.

According to Zhang, the inhibitors’ have unique properties that make them incredibly useful. They have a lighter molecular weight and superior metabolic stability. They give scientists an excellent opportunity to create better treatments for Tuberculosis.

The visionary scientists are already working to patent the exciting new technology. The hunt is on for partners who will work with Purdue to further the development of the new technology. This is together with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization.

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A New Era Diagnosing Parkinson’s

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Scientists are on the verge of introducing a cheaper, faster, and completely painless test for Parkinson’s.

The researchers based at the University of Manchester said the new test which is already in sight, will herald a new era in diagnosing Parkinson’s disease.

A research paper published in the journal Nature Communications details the researchers’ findings that demonstrate hope in a new way of diagnosing Parkinson’s that is simple and painless – a skin swab.

The test examines compounds in the skin’s natural oil called sebum which is not the same in people who have Parkinson’s.  Sebum is a protective oily layer on human skin.

“We believe that our results are an extremely encouraging step towards tests that could be used to help diagnose and monitor Parkinson’s,” explained University of Manchester Prof Perdita Barran.

“Not only is the test quick, simple and painless but it should also be extremely cost-effective because it uses existing technology that is already widely available.

“We are now looking to take our findings forwards to refine the test to improve accuracy even further and to take steps towards making this a test that can be used in the NHS and to develop more precise diagnostics and better treatment for this debilitating condition.”

The team worked with 500 sebum samples. All of them were extracted from people’s upper backs. Some of the subjects had Parkinson’s and some did not.

The scientists used mass spectrometry to isolate 10 chemical compounds that become reduced or elevated when the person has Parkinson’s.

They could diagnose people with Parkinson’s with an accuracy of 85%.

Because Parkinson’s takes so long to progress, it can take years for people to visit a doctor because the symptoms don’t become noticeable for years.

Specialists use a DaTscan to see whether the brain is losing dopamine-producing brain cells. This means that a patient is developing Parkinson’s disease.

The trouble is that there are other, more rare neurological conditions that cause the same loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. This makes the Parkinson’s diagnoses more complicated.

Around a quarter of people living with Parkinson’s in the UK were misdiagnosed with something else first, according to a survey of more than 2,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK.

56-year-old Daxa Kalayci is a Leicester native who has known that she was living with Parkinson’s since her diagnosis in September 2019. In the four years before that that, Kalayci had been misdiagnosed several times over.

“This test could be a game-changer for people living with Parkinson’s and searching for answers, like I was,” she quipped.

“I am so happy with this news because it will mean that in future people won’t have to experience the anxiety of multiple appointments, long waiting times and sleepless nights.

“The sooner this test is available, the better. Anything that can help people looking for a diagnosis is a bonus.”

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Scientists will Soon spot Diseases and find exoplanets with super Tiny photonic devices

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Researchers working in Sweden have created a microcomb capable of detecting diseases faster and making optical communications systems more efficient, among other exciting applications.

The scientists at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have built the photonic device (microcomb) with the capability to produce optical frequencies on a micro resonator – a minute optical cavity.

Effectively, the microcomb is like a ruler of light that measures frequencies with extreme accuracy.

The microcomb generates an array of optical frequencies whose colors are evenly distributed, making it more or less a ruler of light that measures and produces frequencies with extreme accuracy.

The researchers used a chip to develop a new microcomb based on two micro resonators instead of one. The interaction between the two micro resonators is similar to atoms that bind together to create a diatomic molecule known as a photonic molecule.

The microcomb is a device that is readable and capable of being tuned as well as being replicated into something multiple times more efficient than the best devices available at the moment.

The results are extremely significant. “The reason why the results are important is that they represent a unique combination of characteristics, in terms of efficiency, low-power operation and control, that are unprecedented in the field,” explained PhD candidate Óskar Bjarki Helgason.

This is by no means the first time that scientists have created a microcomb on a chip, but it is definitely the first time that scientists have deployed a second micro resonator to beat many of the limitations that have never been surmounted before.

The arrangement has created a number of unique characteristics. The microcomb is so small that it can sit on the tip of a human hair and leaves relatively wide gaps between its teeth.

These wide teeth mean that engineers and researchers have massive opportunities to explore the possibilities.

The microcomb is capable of making optical communication systems vastly more efficient by replacing many lasers with a single microcomb placed in data centers.

The microcombs have great potential for use in lidar to power self-driving vehicles where they can be deployed to record distances, or to calibrate spectrographs deployed in astronomical observations.

Microcombs are also ideal for making optical clocks more accurate as well as improving health monitoring apps in mobile phones, and increasing the accuracy of diagnostic tests that rely on analyzing exhaled air.

“For the technology to be practical and find its use outside the lab, we need to co-integrate additional elements with the micro resonators, such as lasers, modulators, and control electronics,” explained Dr Victor Torres-Company, who is in charge of the Ultrafast Photonics Laboratory at Chalmers University. “This is a huge challenge, that requires maybe five to 10 years and an investment in engineering research, but I am convinced that it will happen.

“The most interesting advances and applications are the ones that we have not even conceived of yet. This will likely be enabled by the possibility of having multiple microcombs on the same chip. What could we achieve with tens of microcombs that we cannot do with one?”

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