Pharmaceutical Company Turns Healthcare Cost Management Into a Simulation Game
It’s hard to go a day without hearing news about the rising cost of healthcare. Prescription drugs are getting more expensive and health insurance rates are on an annual march upward. By and large, patients have little understanding about the financial pressures that are behind those costs. One company is taking a new approach to try to improve the public’s understanding of health care costs. Astellas Pharmaceuticals has turned the delicate balance of cost management into a game called My Health, My Choice.
The game, which can be played on PCs and mobile devices, puts the player in control of four variables: the number of beds, nurses, general practitioners, and specialists in an entire country. By adjusting each of these variables, players gain an understanding of the interplay between care and cost. Decisions that the player makes in the game impact health care budgets and patient wait times.
The game was developed by Dr. Mauro Laudicella, a senior lecturer in health economics at City University London. In order to ensure that the game offered as close a representation of actual healthcare costs as possible, Laudicella incorporated financial data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
“Instead of reading a technical publication about the impact of healthcare expenditure, the public can simulate this game to understand the consequence of their choices,” Laudicella told New Scientist magazine.
Astellas’ European division conducted a survey that found that only 24 percent of people think that the British Government spends enough on health care, according to MedicalXpress. The survey also found that waiting times and access to medicines are the two areas that people believe need the most improvement. Through the simulated game, players can gain a better understanding of how the changes they want would impact the cost of their care.
My Health, My Choice offers healthcare cost simulations for Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. There are no plans, so far, to offer a United States version, though the differences in cost and reimbursement across hundreds of different health insurers in the United States would make a U.S. version of My Health, My Choice exceedingly complex. But with health costs continuing their upward trajectory, the Astellas game offers a novel way to give patients a better understanding about the factors driving those changes.
Credit image: flickr