About the Applicant
Every year at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (or SickKids), they are treating thousands of children with cancer. And one of worst parts of what these young patients have to go through is pain. To combat it, the hospital is continually working to manage and minimize this pain. To do this they traditionally relied on their patients to record exactly how they are feeling on a daily basis in a journal. After multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments however, most patients were too tired or discouraged to keep detailed reports. The sad reality is that unless this pain data was collected consistently, it could not be utilized to help others. And that’s where the Pain Squad Mobile App came in. We gave each patient, or “recruit” an iPhone loaded with the App. Then twice a day they were given an alert telling them it was time to complete their “pain-reporting mission.” Filling in their reports no longer felt like homework thanks to iPhone’s simple gestural interface. With a simple flick of the finger, they could easily identify exactly where and how much it hurt. Then, to ensure that the kids would file their reports as consistently as possible, we built in an engaging reward and graduation structure. We enlisted the help of actors in Canada’s top police dramas, Flashpoint and Rookie Blue, to inform our patients when they were moving up the ranks through motivational videos that were embedded throughout the App. The results have been overwhelming. In the world of pediatric medicine, advancements are measured in tiny increments. And yet thanks to the utilization of gamification and its inherent reward structure, we were able to increase our pediatric cancer pain report response rate from 11% to 81%, an increase of over 600%. We transformed a task that felt like homework into a weapon in a patient’s fight against cancer. And in young lives where so much has been taken away, this was a weapon they couldn’t wait to use. As a result of this significant result, Pain Squad is launching onto the App store in the spring of 2013, and will now allow young cancer patients the world over to take control of their pain. And with thousands of new recruits joining Pain Squad, pain doesn’t stand a chance.