This month we are very happy to profile Dr Kathleen Yin. Kathleen is an ardent advocate for the use of games as behavioural medicine and a tool for self-directed learning; she firmly believes in the need to engage with industry and end-users to optimise uptake of health apps and games.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself I’m Kathleen Yin, Research Fellow at the Australia Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University, Sydney. I study the behaviour of health consumers and what influences their health, with a specific interest in using serious games (definition: The use of games for purposes beyond entertainment) to affect behaviour. I am fascinated by the holistic impact of digitalisation on humans, both physically and mentally. Outside of work, I can be found reading, writing, and analysing media as I experience them.
How do you define digital health? I define it as any instance where human health is influenced by digital technology, and how such tech is affected by the health context in return. It is a blend of interaction design, ICT coding, visual art and sound design, symbolism, psychology and user experience study, clinical and community health practice, and implementation strategies. All of these aspects are required for digital health to reach its fullest potential.
What do you think will enable digital health projects and innovations to succeed? Interdisciplinary collaborations are where I believe digital health projects can break new ground and continue to innovate. Many projects were designed with great clinical expertise and addressing health needs, but the final product was an unsustainable piece of code and did not have appealing user interfaces, meaning people didn’t want to use them. At the same time, there were also projects made by IT professionals that did not address the real needs of the target audience. Bringing people from different disciplines together would allow us to actually produce optimal digital solutions for healthcare problems, and create ground-breaking innovations by combining the different viewpoints and talents of these disciplines.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing digital health at the moment? Going along the same thread of thought, the challenge I see the most is the fragmentation of this field, and the stereotypes people still have for other disciplines. Fragmentation is evident across disciplines, across institutions, and across cities and countries. People often are unaware of what other department or hospitals are working on, and sometimes the expertise they were looking for were easily within reach, yet there was no one to connect the individuals. In my work with serious games, which straddles the different cultures of academia, industrial, and entertainment sectors, I also see a lot of ignorance (unintentional!) and stereotype towards disciplines which people were not themselves familiar with, resulting in unrealistic expectations (for example, commercial developers used to rapid production pipelines might expect academics to produce and assess software prototypes on a weekly basis).
We need to be more open-minded towards other disciplines and how they can help our collective cause, and don’t assume everyone speaks the same language as us.
I am a firm believer that digital health as a collective already has enough expertise to produce many amazing things – we just need to come together to work on it.
Do you have any interesting resources or helpful networks people should know about?
Most of my expertise lies in the serious games field, so my resources might be of special rather than general interest.
- A/Prof Karen Schrier’s work at https://www.karenschrier.com/ is an excellent starting point on how games affect education and health, and contains a large number of good case studies to draw inspiration from
- The largest not-for-profit organisation that uses games for good, Games for Change (https://www.gamesforchange.org/), hosts festivals every year to showcase games making an impact. They now have an Asia-Pacific Branch (https://apac.gamesforchange.org/)based in Melbourne (full disclaimer: I am a Board member for the branch). I encourage you to join the mailing list!
You can follow Kathleen on Twitter @brynhilde_012
Register for Kathleen’s talk on Tuesday 17th August at 11.00am – Video games, exercise, and ‘keeping me sane’ during COVID-19
A very big thank you to Kathleen for kindly agreeing to be our July feature – JW