Video Games and Healthcare? The Next Frontier in DTC Marketing…

One of my  pharmaceutical clients is thinking about targeting the 18-24 market which got me thinking about video games as a potential way to engage and educate this active segment. And as the Mom of three boys, video games are certainly part of our household, so I find myself learning more and more -despite myself- just to keep up with my children…

A few months ago, I read an interesting blog by Douglas Goldstein (The Health Care Blog) entitled Video games to revolutionaize health and healthcare. The blog coincided with two other events that month:

1. The release of a new book, Changing the GAME: How Video Games are Transforming the Future of Business, underscoring the notion that video games are becoming a valuable tool for mainstream business–used for everything from marketing to training to increasing productivity.

2. The release of a new report by iConecto, a leading digital media solutions firm focused on healthcare, delivering the first comprehensive review of the Health eGames industry.  The report documents a consumer and professional market and outlines 5 major categories for consumer Health eGames including: Exergaming, Brain Fitness, Health Eating, Condition Management and Stress Reduction. 

iConecto estimates the Health eGaming market at approximately $7 billion during the next 12 months including the market for brain fitness ($267M), exergaming ($6.4B+) and other Health eGames on the consumer and professional side ($250M+). Much of this new growth is being fueled by Nintendo’s launch of the Wii Fit in the U.S. (projected first year sales are 3M units).

It may be surprising to some that the healthcare industry has been among the first to recognize the ‘game-changing’ potential of games in business and other environments. Leaders in the healthcare sector are now embracing video games as an integral part of a digitally enabled health culture.

“Health eGames” are video games that deliver measurable health benefits. Its is a gaming category that continues to gain accolades from organizations  experiencing success by combining digital education, engagement and entertainment to support health and fitness.  Health eGames have now been vetted by significant research efforts, and the data shows that people can, in fact, “game” their way to a healthy outcome–whether that be managing diabetes, recovering from cancer, improving eating habits or losing weight. Health eGames include everything from Wii Fit, Brain Age and Dance Dance Revolution to Re-Mission (for teens with Cancer), Juiced Mumble (from Playnormous) and Amazing Food Detective (from Kaiser Permanente). Other pioneers include Robert Wood Johnson, Humana, CIGNA, HopeLab.

Today there are more than 300 consumer focused Health eGames offering an active multimedia video experience across multiple platforms-from personal computers and consoles such as Wii, XBOX and PS2, to online and mobile applications such as iPhone’s accelerometer and Nintendo DS.  And rapid growth in adoption is being driven by some unexpected demographic segments, including mothers, seniors and even toddlers.  [More about Mothers in my next blog…]

So I find it interesting that eGames are not just for the teen and ’20 something’ market,  but represent a much broader and ‘game changing’ opportunity…Going forward, video games  will need to  be thought of as a media and not just a product.  They have the unique potential to engage consumers and health stakeholders in ways that are very powerful within the context of an online community or social network…

Are we ready to more actively build innovative solutions for engagement and effectiveness with the 200 million monthly gamer community, who cut across all demographic categories, or hold back and run the risk of missing out on one of the most significant social, cultural and technological trends of the next 10 years? What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Video Games and Healthcare? The Next Frontier in DTC Marketing…

  1. Hi Ellen, Great post.

    Paul Ivans during his address at e-pharma 2 weeks ago mentionned that combining gaming and channels comming together will offer increadible potential. For example in the (near) future, the way I am using wii fit will impact what content I receive on my mobile device… which in terms offer the opportunity to extend a brand offer and engagement. Gaming to promote health but also to engage with brands?

    • Xavier,

      Thank you for your comment. I was sorry that I had to miss the e-pharma conference two weeks ago.

      I am glad to hear that others are talking about gaming as a huge possiblity…and yes, I agree with you that health eGames offer interesting opportunities to not only educate and promote better health, but to extend brand engagment in new ways that we aren’t tapping right now. (Tapping into mobile marketing starts to take it yet to another level of sophistication and impact)

      It would be an interesting area to explore with a multi-disciplinary team…

      Thanks again for your thoughts!

Comments are closed.