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How technology can help influence health behaviour change

Discover how you can improve treatment by influencing behaviour change in pharma patients using technology as a tool.

In this post we look at the role of this technology, and how it can be utilised for successful health behaviour change. Gamification, in particular, is proving to be hugely effective in the
treatment of patients.

Unlike methods which merely aim to educate patients by traditional methods (or simply ‘telling them what to do’, at worst), gamification combines entertainment with education and, at the same time, hands over control to the patient as they learn to ‘master’ a game with their own skills and attributes. Games such as Zombies, Run! and Pact (in which players are rewarded by sticking to a particular diet) inspire the desire to compete and win – either against opponents or themselves. In this way, goals can be set and met in a ‘fun’ setting which distracts users from the ‘serious’ (or even tedious) business of accomplishing tasks which need to be done.


Enjoyment in education is by no means a new concept, but more must be done to remove the stigma of self-punishment (or resisting old habits which are actually comfortable) from behaviour change. By taking on new challenges rather than merely ‘giving up fun things that do harm’, behaviour change becomes an optimistic prospect for patients.


Yet gamification goes beyond the present, as it inspires individuality, creativity and resolve. These qualities can then be carried over into other aspects of the patient’s life, which include in no small part their ongoing treatment. For addictive personalities in particular, the flaws in character can become noble attributes which will lead to better health and happiness all round.

According to Accenture, gamification provides seven key elements:

  • STATUS: Users feel proud of achievements among peers
  • MILESTONES: A sense of progress as new targets are met
  • COMPETITION: The natural desire to be better than others, or ‘former selves’
  • RANKINGS: Understanding one’s place in the hierarchy
  • SOCIAL CONNECTEDNESS: Feeling part of a community of fellow users
  • IMMERSION REALITY: Escapism in virtual worlds 
  • PERSONALISATION: Promotes a feeling of control over user’s own life. 

Besides the personal qualities (to enable behaviour change) that gamification encourages, however, there is also success on the intellectual front too. Patients’ minds become more fertile ground for retaining knowledge about their conditions and medical matters in general, and this knowledge can further arm them to make changes in their lives – with confidence. Better still, the engagement with games can also encourage engagement with other forms of media such as videos, audio (podcasts etc) and research (googling etc), as well as signing up for email newsletters and posting to forums.   

Making behaviour change a success

For behaviour change to successfully happen, however, doctors, healthcare professionals (HCPs) and pharma companies must collaborate with patients, rather than work for them.

For this to happen, each group must embrace their own behaviour changes.  Our white paper ‘Influencing Behaviour Change’ outlines ways in which this can occur, including how notions of ‘roles’ must evolve with the times and how, just as patients, professionals must be prepared to discard ineffective habits and embrace new ideas and practices. There’s a wealth of resources and knowledge at our fingertips, and we’ll never be doing enough if we fail to explore all avenues.  

This blog was originally posted here: http://www.wearecouch.com/blog/how-technology-can-help-influence-health-behaviour-change
  

19th June 2017

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