Healthcare Gamification - Regulation of Wellness Programs

Gamification has become pervasive in many every day activities, including health and wellness programs. For companies involved in these activities, you should make sure you are aware of the final Affordable Care Act ("ACA") regulations on wellness programs. These come into effect in 2014.

Gamification refers to the use of game mechanics for non-game purposes. It is often used to provide incentives for people to take certain actions. The mecahnics often include a combination of things such as rewards, status, levels, exclusive content or other incentives to shape user behavior. Airline frequent flyer programs are a great example - to gain repeat business and customer loyalty, airlines provide points (redeemable for flights and other things), status (priority boarding), premier or executive levels, exclusive content and offers, etc.

Many health and wellness programs use similar mechanics to incent users to engage in healthy activities and/or refrain from unhealthy ones.

Gamification in general can create a host of legal issues of which companies should be aware. The recently finalized ACA regulations, summarized in Pillsbury's recent Client Alert entltled "Final Wellness Regulations Create New Program Categories and Complications," identify some specific to wellness programs.