We are all gamers. Those of us in our 50’s grew up playing chess, checkers, Monopoly, Life, and other board games. We loved the competition and socialization these games played in our early and adolescent lives. Today, my kids are absorbed in their smartphones. They grew up with games like FarmVille, Minecraft, and Tomb Raider, first on game consoles like PlayStation and Xbox and now more increasingly on their smartphones. All three girls, they are inseparable from these devices and cannot imagine the world without Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook. They revel in the constant entertainment and connectivity they get from their iPhones. Well-designed gamification elements in these apps keep them engaged day and night – and often, way too late into the night! My youngest recently exclaimed, “I just hit a new record…100 days in a row” of snap chats with her BFF (best-friend forever). “That’s nothing,” commented her older sister who we learned has a 446-day streak going with her high school boyfriend.
While my girls are still a few years away from entering the workforce, our 20-something employees demonstrate the same unbreakable tethering to these devices. So, how do we use the concept of gamification to make our companies and the business software we depend on to run them more fun and engaging for this new workforce? What if we could get our employees engaged in everyday business activities with the same degree of enthusiasm as they have for their smartphone apps. Imagine — “I’ve just completed my 20th straight day with all open shifts filled,” or “I just moved ahead of Bob on the leaderboard for most work-refusals recorded.”
And, while we are surrounded by gamification concepts as consumers – think Starbucks points, McDonald’s Monopoly game pieces, and airline frequent flyer programs – it is rare to see gamification used in our daily business applications. But, this is changing. In their book, “For the Win,” professors Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter of the Wharton Business School, define gamification as follows:
Gamification: The use of game elements and game-design techniques in non-game contexts.
50+ ideas for recognizing your caregivers and increasing caregiver retention.
In the book, they describe key elements of both successful and failed efforts to use gamification in business (i.e., non-game contexts). The book describes the motivational aspects, design considerations and structural elements of gamification, and its use of points, badges, and leaderboards (PBL). In a testament to the growing interest in the subject, the two men also teach the world’s first course on the business practice of Gamification at the renowned business school. In this white paper, we look at a few examples of how PBL and other concepts of Gamification have been and could be used in home care software.
One goal in gamification is to change an unwanted behavior or motivate someone to do something they may not normally do. Many software vendors offer mobile and telephony solutions for caregivers to clock- in and out, record completed tasks, and communicate with the office. The challenge is to get caregivers to consistently use them, especially in the early adoption months. In January, MatrixCare launched its 2K4Care program to add an element of fun to the time tracking process. The idea is simple: When caregivers clock-in and out of their daily visits using our mobile app on a smartphone, or by using the client’s land line and our telephony system, they are entered into a monthly raffle to win a $1,000 prize. The program has been called a win-win-win by our clients. First, clients win because the program encourages caregivers to be prompt, as only clock-ins that match a scheduled visit and are within the agency defined threshold of promptness (e.g., 6 minutes) earn a chance to win the prize. Second, the caregivers win because each prompt visit gives them a chance to win the prize.
In some agencies, the odds have been improved with the addition of a private drawing, which ensures one of their own caregivers will be selected each month. And finally, the agency wins with one more tool for attracting and retaining the best caregivers, and one less manual time sheet adjustment to enter to process payroll and billing. The gamification concept of fun engagement for doing something that can be seen as mundane has played a big role in the success of this program.
In a recent brainstorming session, we looked for opportunities to expand on 2K4Care and insert more gamification concepts into our back office modules to further engage our office staff users. Not surprisingly, most ideas floated were related to the scheduling process. We all know that a good scheduler makes or breaks an agency.
Some of the ideas included rewarding points to Schedules for:
Entering a work refusal event when a caregiver is offered work but does not accept.
Capturing complete client inquiry information from an inbound prospect call.
Adding a compatibility score to a client-caregiver matching record.
Sending a personalized “Happy Birthday” text message to a caregiver.
Building a client-caregiver schedule with additional points awarded for recurring visits.
Filling an open shift, with additional points for recurring schedules.
Entering caregiver attributes, availability, certification, and training information.
Beyond scheduling, one interesting concept involved tracking how software users log off their devices—an important factor in protecting personal health information and a requirement of HIPAA. Because most healthcare applications will automatically log off the user after a period of inactivity, many do not actively log off when they leave their desk. This behavior can leave protected health information (PHI) vulnerable until the auto log off feature is triggered. To change this behavior, one User Experience Engineer suggested rewarding users each time they actively log off. The ratio of user log offs to total log offs (including auto log offs) would produce a score and could be shown on a leaderboard, another key element of a gamification.
Besides points and a leaderboard, gamification in software often involves achieving various levels of mastery and the award of badges or medals as in the picture above. One interesting idea involved awarding badges for accessing built-in documentation and how-to videos, then demonstrating the mastery of the concept in the system. For example, after opening documentation on building recurrence patterns in our scheduling module, the user would earn a badge once they create a recurring schedule for a client.
Gamification Within and Across Agencies
In larger agencies with teams in each department or within franchise networks, gamification opportunities can be easily modeled. Most of our franchise clients have annual conferences where awards are given for largest, fastest growing, most recognized, and a myriad of other categories. Gamification is a natural fit for these networks who recognize their leaders and learn from their best practices. For smaller agencies, gamification may only be possible across companies to get real results and to achieve the level of fun, engagement, and competition needed to make it worth the effort. This could be accomplished if there is enough interest across companies and could be facilitated by the software vendor, perhaps working with companies like Home Care Pulse to identify the PBL’s for a worthy competition.
These are just a few illustrations of how gamification can be used in home care software. As post baby boom workers move up through the ranks of our companies, and as we employ more staff who cannot remember a time before the smartphone, gamification will play an increasingly important role in keeping your staff and caregivers engaged, happy, and productive.
Joe Kraus | SVP & President of Home Care Solutions
Joe Kraus has spent the past eighteen years focused on home care automation as both IT manager and vendor. In 1999 he founded Stratis Business Systems which developed the Visitrax (1999-2008) and Soneto (2009-Present) home care software solutions. Before home care, Kraus developed financial software for General Electric and is a graduate of GE’s Information Systems Management Program. He serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Caregiving Youth (www.aacy.org). After MatrixCare acquired Stratis in 2015, Kraus was named SVP & President of Home Care Solutions. He has a BS in Computer Science from the University of Rhode Island and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management.
Article originally published in the 2017 Home Care Benchmarking Study
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