Editor's Corner: Pokémon characters for the U.S. healthcare system

Ron Shinkman

Not long after Pokémon Go became a global phenomenon, hospitals all over the country issued warnings for visitors and employees not to play it on their grounds.

For those who haven't heard about it, Pokémon Go is a game played on smartphones overlaid on GPS-generated maps of the real world. Players have to gather up objects and take over control of Pokémon creatures by actually going out into the world and walking around.

"We'd like to remind you that the hospital is a place for patient care, and as such, Pokémon Go may not be used during work time or on hospital property,” according to a memo Massachusetts General Hospital sent to employees, Healthcare IT News reported. The Nebraska Hospital Association has gone so far as to suggest to its membership that it contact the game's developers in order to ensure game objects do not appear on their properties.

That's sort of a shame. With a few tweaks, Pokémon Go could be an entirely instructive experience for those wishing to learn more about how the U.S. healthcare system works.

With those few tweaks, players could look for and gather up the following on hospital grounds:

1. Nurses and doctors washing their hands between patients. That's a rarer experience than many players might think. Worth a moderate amount of candy. A moderately difficult catch.

2. A hospital bill most patients could understand. A rare creature not only very high up on the evolutionary chain, but worth a large amount of candy. A very difficult catch.

3. A not-for-profit hospital CEO not being excessively overpaid. This kind of creature is likely to be found at smaller and rural hospitals, requiring significant treks by players to locate. Worth a significant amount of candy. A medium difficulty catch.

4. A doctor not ordering excessive and duplicative tests. Another creature likely to require a significant amount of time and distance to locate. Also worth a significant amount of candy. A medium difficulty catch.

5. Prices for service actually posted on the grounds of the hospital, along with clear-cut policies on how uninsured and indigent patients can apply for charity care. Worth a large amount of candy. A difficult catch.

Given how the hospital sector thinks about such discoveries, don't be surprised if these creatures are equipped to put up fierce resistance. My experience suggests they would require a significant supply of Poké balls to capture. – Ron (@FierceHealth)