Gaming could help many people monitor their own health conditions - if game companies don’t get put off by slow processes.

That is the view of Rosemary Kay, director of Liverpool-based eHealth Cluster, which helps tech SMEs find their way through the complicated worlds of health and social care. 

“There are opportunities for health and social care around gaming but it’s not the game companies’ world and they can’t understand why everything takes so long,” Kay told BusinessCloud.

“What they do in the gaming world is exactly what we need in some areas of healthcare.

“There are preventative opportunities there and if you can understand UX and how to influence behaviour you can get people looking after their own condition and understanding it. Serious gaming approaches are creating new opportunities for understanding health conditions.

“That’s where we’ve had to work to bring both sides together to say 'there’s something here for both of you'.

“Gaming companies are used to doing a pitch and getting a ‘yes' or 'no’. With the NHS they say ‘I think there’s something there but we need to go to a committee and look at our budget and talk to this person’.

“The companies say ‘is this really worth it?’ and we say ‘yes it’s not you, it’s just the way they work’.”

The cluster was set up by a group of tech companies who wanted to get into the sector but found no clear routes to market. It now has over 350 people registered.

“They could see lots of opportunities but couldn’t find the right people to talk to,” Kay said.

“It’s very much about understanding the world of health and social care. A real issue for SMEs is to understand the route to market.

“They would come to us saying ‘we have a great product and want to sell our app to social care commissioners to use in their services’. We’d say 'well social care commissioners won’t buy that because they have no money and they don’t buy products, they buy services via care providers'.

“We untangled what sits where and found that companies could spend an awful lot of time talking to the wrong people and even competitors without realising. Not many people understand all three areas – tech, health and social care.”

The cluster, which is funded on membership fees and special projects, currently only asks public bodies, not SMEs, for membership to avoid pricing anyone out.

 “So far those that get it do really get it. They’re coming on board slowly,” Kay explained.

“You get most learning around the people you’ve had to encourage to come in because if you work with a company or public body who says ‘I want to do this or that’, it’s not actually attacking barriers.”

The next barriers that the company wants to attack include getting students straight out of university and tying up with the city’s other initiatives.

“Health and social care isn’t like a typical tech business – it’s not about standard marketing plans and social media, it’s about navigating red tape,” Kay said.

“Some tech companies talk to us and then say it’s not for me. To me that’s a success rather than wasting time and money.”