From Didget to Paper Cut-Outs: Gaming Your Way To Better Health

via Lori Senecal,| Image Source: link

Gamification isn’t just another marketing buzzword. While many brands already employ games and entertainment apps to engage customers, the healthcare sector has recently applied game mechanics to address bigger issues than human boredom. Increasingly, they are using games to help drive important and potentially life-changing behavioral changes.

The trend is gaining traction and momentum among drugmakers and health campaigners, according to a recent report out of Reuters’ London bureau, which defines gamification as turning boring, unpleasant but necessary tasks into an online game.  The idea is to use the natural human instincts of playing and learning to familiarize patients with their illness and to help them to better monitor and treat it. Basically, it’s the thoroughly modern equivalent of getting a kid to take his medicine by pretending the fork is an airplane.

A good example is Didget, a glucose monitor made by German drugmaker Bayer which helps children with diabetes (as well as their parents) cope with having to prick their fingers to test their blood. Didget features a game called “Knock ‘Em Downs” that works with the Nintendo game console. It rewards the child for taking regular blood updates by adding points and new features. It turns a stressful daily routine into a more fun, rewarding one. While the healthcare sector is still unsure of the benefits of gamification (should we encourage our kids to play outdoors rather than in front of a video game?), many feel there is huge potential.

At the other end of the stethoscope, gamification is also helping healthcare providers, enabling doctors to better manage the constant onslaught of information they digest in order to stay current.  For instance, major drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline recently won the Euro RSCG Life Digital Award for an online game called “Paper to Patient,” designed to help doctors learn about policy changes around a specific illness called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

While gamification has helped many brands simply reach a deeper level of engagement with their customers, it bears consideration that games may educate, raise public awareness, and help change mission-critical behavior for many. Ultimately, gamification has potential to be much more than a marketing buzzword; it may even be a game changer.

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