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Health workers in Switzerland are using videogames to beat COVID-19

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Anaesthetist and IT enthusiast Mélanie Suppan plays the video game she developed to help fight COVID-19
Anaesthetist and IT enthusiast Mélanie Suppan plays the video game she developed to help fight COVID-19   -   Copyright  AFP

Swiss health workers have a new weapon with which to fight COVID-19 - videogames.

Staff at Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) have been encouraged to relax by playing a new game called “Escape COVID-19”.

During the course of the game, which was developed by researchers at HUG, they encounter a series of situations that health workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities are faced with daily.

The goal is to help frontline staff internalise best practices to avoid getting or transmitting COVID-19.

"Classical hospital hygiene and inter-hospital infection prevention are not always the most sexy of topics," said Professor Stephan Harbarth, who heads infection prevention and control at the hospital.

"We see that a playful game, along with other communication methods, is more effective in helping people change their behaviour," he added.

We realised we needed to be very careful that the personnel didn't become vectors, or mosquitos if you will, infecting patients.
Stephan Harbarth
Head of the infection prevention and control at Geneva University Hospitals

One of the challenges facing the hospitals included trying to educate staff used to doing long hours and working through coughs and sniffles to stay home when they were symptomatic.

"We realised we needed to be very careful that the personnel didn't become vectors, or mosquitos if you will, infecting patients," said Harbarth.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research earlier this month posited that workers who played the game were 3 times more likely to say they wanted to change their behaviour compared to those who received the regular material.

"It is really a complete change of our normal paradigm," Harbarth said. "The game has helped us do that".

Watch the video in the media player above for more on this story.