Talk about your really cool mashups of Web 2.0 technology being employed in clever ways to help improve people's health! The non-profit Diabetes Hands Foundation has teamed up with Joslin Diabetes Center and pharma sponsor Boehringer Ingelheim to introduce a new interactive, Facebook-based game with social networking features that teaches you about healthy eating and diabetes management, and encourages you to take actions. The game is called HealthSeeker, and it goes live today!
Designed by Vancouver-based social game development group Ayogo Games, HealthSeeker aims to help people "improve their everyday behaviors." It prompts players to cycle through learning modules like "Phat Mission" (all about healthy vs. unhealthy fats); "Move It! Move It! " (about exercise choices); and "It's a Numbers Game" (about best practices for glucose monitoring).
Players are then prompted to select and accept three "Missions" in each area, i.e. lifestyle goals that you commit to working on for at least one week running.
Tabbed areas let you track your Missions and Achievements, and allow you to add and chat with Friends for support. You can also post Kudos messages to Friends, lauding their efforts, and Challenge Requests, daring them to do more. For example, if you commit to eating meat-free at least three times a week, you can challenge a Friend to do the same.
My impression from beta testing was that HealthSeeker is currently more of a quiz format with sharing capabilities than a full-blown interactive game. But there's a lot of great information, and it definitely inserts the "fun" into learning about nutrition and BG testing tasks. It also makes the really hard part — committing to goals and actually executing on them — seem as simple and inevitable as checking your Facebook profile.
From the press release, a quote from my own co-author and friend Dr. Richard Jackson of Joslin Diabetes Center (an endocrinologist and Director of Medical Affairs, Healthcare Services): "As a clinician who has been treating people with diabetes for over 30 years, I can tell you that food is often the most frustrating area of concern for people with the condition. We hope this novel and engaging game will break down some of the barriers that are preventing people with diabetes from building a successful lifestyle approach to their condition."
I encourage you all to sign up now and give the game a try! At the very least, your feedback will be invaluable to the amazing team that worked so hard to create this new application.
Congratulations in particular to Manny Hernandez, founder of the Diabetes Hands Foundation and TuDiabetes network, who never seems to stop "pushing the envelope" towards new ways to employ the internet as a platform for improving life with diabetes. You rock, Amigo!