Welcome back to Papers We Love! Sorry for the absence last week - the holidays kind of took the pepper out of me and I fell behind. BUT I picked out a paper on gamification among frail elderly patients that I think will lead to a really good discussion (and isn't too long of a read :) ).
I picked this paper somewhat selfishly. My dad worked in geriatric practice when I was growing up. As a result, I spent a lot of time tagging around with him to nursing homes and interacting with patients. I'm very interested in the intersection of elder care, healthcare, and technology. It's almost like this paper was tailor made for me.
I think the paper did a great job of outlining possible gains as well as technical, cultural, and accessibility challenges. However, I was a bit surprised and dismayed that the paper didn't touch on possible ethical and privacy ramifications of this kind of data gathering. Sure, you might be able to observe a decline and medically intervene earlier. But how is this information being collected and stored? Who has access, and is participation voluntary for the patient? Will this integrate with an Electronic Medical Record, and will performance in gamified activities impact insurance rates or treatment options?
I am incredibly wary of policies and technologies that treat elderly patients as having fewer rights than other people. It's a trap that can rob patients of their dignity at the same time they're being robbed of their mobility, senses, and ability to live autonomously, and I think it's imperative to keep these questions in mind when integrating technology with elder care.