Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
'Gamification' is an increasingly hot topic in pharma's digital circles thanks to its potential in areas like patient adherence and medical education.
Based on the theory of using game design techniques to solve problems and engage audiences it has real, practical applications.
Last year players of a game called Foldit, produced in the US by the University of Washington, took just 10 days to solve a problem that had baffled scientists for 15 years, by deciphering the crystal structure of a protein that causes AIDS in rhesus monkeys.
Now a new practical guide looks at how the pharmaceutical industry can utilise gamification theories and where the health benefits could lay.
The multimedia PME 'How to' Guide to Gamification was produced by PMLiVE publishers PMGroup in association with Grey Healthcare Group.
It works through the theory, the dynamics, the 'rules' for practical application and also the ways in which gamification could be applied to healthcare.
Pharma has already dipped its toes into these waters, combining games for a variety of reasons including raising awareness of certain diseases and patient adherence.
Bayer's Didget blood glucose meter plugs directly into the Nintendo DS handheld games system and uses a specially-designed game (Knock 'Em Downs: Worlds Fair) to encourage children to keep up with their testing regime.
Then there are 'serious games' from Pfizer, whose Back in Play was designed to raise awareness of ankylosing spondylitis, and Boehringer, whose eagerly anticipated Facebook game Syrum aims at both disease awareness and improving the public's understanding of pharma.
As the new Guide, authored by Dr Kieran Walsh, clinical director at BMJ Learning, Andy Hastie, head of digital at Grey Healthcare Group and Matthew Hunt, European head of planning at Grey Healthcare Group, notes, “gamification has moved beyond the virtual”.
“No-one knows what health improvements the Wii Fit has brought to our society, or from the fact that runners can now share their goals and training routes on Nike+,” the authors write.
“As with any emerging discipline there are many ways that it could develop but at the very heart of it are some basic truths: people like challenges, they love rewards and they certainly enjoy sharing their success.”
• Read: The PME 'How to' Guide to Gamification