Using an Online Game Platform for Community Health Assessment

Client: Brigham and Women's Hospital
Topic Areas: Community development; Grant-making programs
Service: Assessment and Planning

The Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) hired ICH to undertake a community health assessment and prioritization process to inform the direction of a new grant-making initiative. With the assessment, CCHHE wanted to collect input from community members on strategies that would advance health, well-being, and racial equity in five Boston neighborhoods. ICH partnered with the Engagement Lab at Emerson College to use their online gaming platform Community PlanIt as a mechanism for collecting community input. ICH worked with the Engagement Lab to design a game called “What Matters for Health” that was open to the public over a three-week period. The game was structured with three discrete “missions” in which players completed challenges that involved answering questions, contributing media, or solving problems based upon their personal values and experiences. Players earned virtual coins by completing challenges or interacting with other players, and could use their coins to vote for local projects in need of funding. The projects with the most votes at the end of the game received monetary awards from BWH. By using this innovative platform to engage community members, ICH was able to collect over 8000 comments from 438 individuals. ICH analyzed and synthesized all input provided through the game in order to identify top community health priorities and associated recommendations for improvement. With this information, CCHHE was able to design a focused grant-making strategy that was aligned with community needs, values, and priorities.