Gamification Grows Up - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Gamification Grows Up


Pharmaceutical Executive


Small enough




From the web interface, parents can also communicate with other parents, because "that's the right time and place, when [parents] are online and thinking about their child, and have a question," says Fergusson. "That's done through a social network, optimized for small groups, and the parent can also push additional game play rewards into the monster environment for the child. "Susie is keeping her room tidy or taking care of her diabetes equipment, or doing a better job of eating on schedule. That might not be directly measurable, but the parent can reward the behavior they want to reinforce." Ayogo hasn't partnered with a non-profit yet for this game, but is in discussions currently, and Sanofi has an option to brand it and disseminate it to patients.

Asked about ROI and metrics from a pharmaceutical underwriter's perspective, Fergusson says some of the companies he works with are only interested in getting to the patient right when a treatment decision is being made, but others are more forward looking. "Something really interesting is happening in the pharma space...one by one, companies are coming to the conclusion that they don't sell pills, actually. Their business is getting people healthier. I want to engage with a company that I trust to help me manage my health, and if I do need pills, then it should be a company that I know can deliver them. But if all you can do is sell me pills, you're not part of my health solution or part of me living a healthy life."

Games that externalize fear

Emotions often run high when it comes to children and diseases. Scott Randall, CEO at BrandGames, an elder statesman of the gamification industry (BrandGames set up shop in 1995), recently did a project aimed at helping parents inject their kids correctly. That's a tricky task, particularly when the caregiver or parent himself is afraid of needles. "The risks involved in administering the medication are significant, and all patients get is this little box with a piece of rice paper in it, and it says, hold the syringe like this, put it together like this, do this, do that, and stick it in your kid's leg," says Randall. "They've never done this before, and now they have this hysterical child on their hands, and they're supposed to be administering the medication."

The idea for the game is built around the concept of a tutorial, with added emotion. "You match the different steps in the process and assemble an interactive syringe, and then you get coached on whether or not you've done a good job," says Randall. "There's a big-picture comfort piece for the caregiver or parent that says, you know, this is something you can do." The online tutorial discusses how the drug works, to help increase competency in administration at the same time. "It's really for the protection of the patient, because at the end of the day, a calm and confident caregiver projects that onto the kid, who can smell fear a mile away," says Randall. The key performance metric in this instance is based on a reduction of adverse events.

It's a learning game

For Randall, the key to developing games to modify behavior is time and engagement. "People don't have either. You have to get them engaged emotionally in what's going on, or they won't participate," he says.

BrandGames has also done healthcare training for a nursing program at Johnson & Johnson, and pharma rep training for Daiichi Sankyo. "The idea is, how do you engage the doctor and how do you engage patients? When you're looking at patient outcomes, you have to give the patient the big picture of what the medication is doing. At the doctor's office, you get a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox. You go home with no emotional engagement; you have no context around your treatment. Without that, patients don't participate in their treatment, and outcomes are worse," says Randall.

Taken together, the message emerging from Seifert, Ferguson, and Randall is that pharma companies looking to gamify their brands need to put education and learning up front, and figure out what specific behaviors are unique to the patient audience. Then decisions can be made about the appropriate gaming mechanisms to use, who to share with, and how to get it in the customers' hands.


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