Hospital Policy on PokemonGo

Posted on July 15, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Since it’s our Fun Friday post, I couldn’t think of anything better than posting something about PokemonGo. Seriously, this is quite the phenomenon. Before I get into some of the practical impact of PokemonGo in hospitals, I’ll say that I don’t find the game that stimulating myself, but I get the intrigue of competing with friends and discovering a game. Plus, I’ve always thought it was fun to say Pokemon. However, I do see the potential for augmented reality that PokemonGo illustrates. I’m excited by the future of augmented reality and the actual useful apps that will come.

Now to the more practical impact of PokemonGo. Everyone has written about the way PokemonGo is getting people out of their house and walking around (often with friends). I still wouldn’t call it a health app any more than the Wii Fit was really a health app. However, there are certainly health benefits to walking and to spending time with friends.

Well, it turns out that PokemonGo has even been popular at hospitals. So much so that Cook Children’s put out this note and image on their Facebook page:

At Cook Children’s, we encourage fun as a way to help our patients and families heal. However, we have to discourage anyone planning to come to our medical center as well as primary and urgent care facilities with the sole purpose of playing Pokemon Go, or similar games.

Our commitment is to the protection, safety and care of our patients and their families. Having people come to our campuses (which are private) with the intention of catching pokemon, instead of seeking patient care, will be asked to leave. In addition to Pokemon Go posing a security risk to our patients, it also puts users at risk of violating federal privacy laws.

Our patients are protected from having their picture taken, and one is only authorized to do so with written consent of a parent or guardian. At Cook Children’s, we encourage fun, but not at the expense of our patients security or privacy. Thank you for understanding.

Hospital PokemonGo Notice and Policy

Someone in the comments noted that hospitals should not be a Pokestop and that Cook Children’s Medical Center should ask for it to be removed at a Pokestop. They offered this reply:

Yes, we can opt out. However, our patients love it and we don’t want to take it away from them just because some choose to abuse it.

Is keeping your hospital as a Pokestop considered part of the patient experience?

It’s a tough balance in this new world and PokemonGo is just the start. It’s going to get more and more complex as the virtual and real worlds collide. I think Cook Children’s has done a nice job finding the balance. How long until someone goes in for an unneeded ER visit because there’s a rare Pokemon in the ER? Yes, that’s how crazy some of these players are.

What’s been the PokemonGo experience in your hospital? What have you done about it? More importantly, what level are you on? I’m at Level 3. #TooOldForThis