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Pokémon Go 101: What Hospitals Should Know

Pokémon Go continues to grow in popularity, but not everyone is a fan of the widespread mobile game. It turns out this app isn’t all fun and games for hospitals and their staff.

Since the game’s launch, hospitals across the country have seen an increase in emergency room visits due to Pokémon Go-related injuries. At the same time, healthcare providers also saw an unexpected increase in visitors not seeking patient care. These visitors, actually Pokémon Go players, have been crowding hospitals in an effort to “capture them all” and win the game. For example, a Utah hospital recently discovered their campus was the location of a Pokéstop, or a designated area where players can find the items they need to hunt Pokémon. Not surprisingly, the facility noted that the extra visitors were disruptive to their staff and patients.

While some hospitals have embraced the game’s therapeutic effect on their patients, other hospitals have simply told the public Pokémon No instead. These hospitals are concerned that the game could expose them to safety and patient privacy risks. For instance, Pokémon Go users could inadvertently capture sensitive patient information with their smartphone cameras as they play the game. If one of those images found its way on to a social media account, then that hospital could find itself in violation of HIPPA.

Since the Pokémon Go craze is unlikely to go away anytime soon, it’s important for hospital administrators to let their staff and the public know where they stand on this issue. Perhaps your facility already has a mobile device use policy in place. If not, it might be time to write one. To learn more about how your facility can protect itself, visit the Department of Health & Human Services website here.

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Elena Barker

Elena Barker is a Creative Content Ninja at Medical Solutions, one of the nation's largest Travel Nurse staffing companies. Elena develops and edits content for Healthcare Staffing Blog which covers healthcare staffing industry news and trends.