Personal wellness is all fun and games

Online games engage patients and promote wellness

Traditional wellness programs are becoming competitive online games and blending technology, art, and behavioral psychology to encourage users to achieve their personal health and wellness goals. The programs are applying gamification in order to increase and sustain engagement.


Aetna, the Connecticut-based health insurer, launched an online personal wellness game where each player owns a tree with leaves that represent different areas of life such as health, finances, and spirituality.

In order for the tree to remain “healthy,” users have to set personal goals and perform tasks. When a goal is met, the user receives sunshine or water to keep the tree healthy. If the goal hasn’t been achieved, the tree will wither away and die.

Also, when you set goals, accomplish tasks, and perform other actions, the tree produces seeds that can be used to send rain to a friend or upload additional photos on your page.The incentive to use the game and achieve the set goals is intrinsic rather than financial. This allows for true behavior change.

In addition to this, the game is fully customizable. Inspirational quotes, personal photos, and music can be added to each user’s profile and friends can join and share their progress on the site through Facebook or other social networking sites.

Aetna is also adding custom content to the game, where employers, hospitals, and health systems can offer personalized content such as articles and videos for their target audiences. These articles and videos would be a part of each user’s profile.

Staying healthy and setting personal goals has never been more fun and easy to do when applying gamification.

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