Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
Crazy monsters, bizarre furniture and weird pets are at the heart of a new mobile game from Sanofi UK for children with diabetes.
Available on the iPhone, iPad and Android devices, Monster Manor is a collecting game with a built-in tracker that provides positive feedback the more regularly players test and log their blood glucose levels.
The company wants to encourage children with type I diabetes to better manage their condition through regular blood glucose testing in a move that builds on its mobile diabetes experiences with the iPhone-compatible iBGStar meter.
The free game was developed as part of a partnership between Sanofi UK, Diabetes UK and behavioural change gaming firm Ayogo Health.
Michael Fergusson, CEO at Ayogo Health, said: “As game designers, watching children play Monster Manor has been very satisfying, as the kids tell us that it's fun and they want to keep playing. But for us, fun is only a means to an end; the goal ultimately is to improve health outcomes for the children we work for.”
Children between ages six and 13 with type 1 diabetes are expected to take on increasing responsibility for testing and logging their own blood glucose, but only 15 per cent achieve their blood glucose targets.
It is thought that just one extra test a day in teenagers could lead to a 0.4 per cent reduction in blood glucose concentration or HbA1c, potentially making a significant difference.
Every time Monster Manor players enter their diabetes information they are rewarded with a piñata they can smash to collect a prize, and by logging children's blood sugar tests the app also serves as a tool for families and healthcare professionals to spot glycaemic trends.
Sanofi noted that the role of 'gamification' in the management of chronic conditions has yet to be tested, but said the Monster Manor concept could an approach that soon catches on.
Andrew Hockey, medical director Sanofi Diabetes, said: “For children with type 1 diabetes who are resistant to testing this new app could help manage their condition with the promotion of better behaviours to supplement and support their daily regimen. We see this new app as a solution that promotes better outcomes.”
Pharma companies have explored games in diabetes before, notably in the form of Bayer's Knock 'Em Downs: Worlds Fair game for its Nintendo DS-compatible blood glucose meter, but to date there has been little rigorous assessment of their use.
Sanofi hopes to change this, and Monster Manor is set to be evaluated by one of the NHS' Academic Health Science Networks, the bodies set up earlier this year to unite regional scientific and academic communities and industry.
Dr Katharine Owen, clinical lead for the Oxford Academic Health Science Network's Diabetes Network, said: “Technology is part of everyday life, so using it to help with balancing blood sugars and have fun at the same time is a brilliant idea!
“We are excited to be evaluating this project and hope our new diabetes network will come up with more bright ideas like this one that will make a big difference to patients of all ages."