Video Games: Key to the Future of Pharma and Healthcare?

Full Article Published in PharmExec.com August 5, 2009. 

Everyday new results suggest that health games and virtual worlds bear the potential to be “game changers” by improving education, provoking greater engagement, and engendering positive behavior to enhance health and wellness.

While more clinical studies are still needed, preliminary results are beginning to demonstrate proof of principle.  In the wake of the 2009 Games For Health conference, the article outlines five factors for why you might start to take health gaming seriously, as well as key lessons consistently described by the speakers, to provide a perspective on what may be involved in bringing Health eGames into 2010 planning and beyond. (For a summary of the two-day event, along with the associated marketing implications of healthgames, see PharmExec guest blogs “The Next Frontier” and “Can Healthcare Games Change the Game of Healthcare?“) 

Gaming for Health: Five Factors

  1. Games are not just for kids, or teenage boys, but are increasingly played by digital moms and 50+ consumers
  2. Games enjoy broad penetration–in the US, 68% of households play computer or video games
  3. America faces serious health issues that need extra attention e.g., diabetes, obesity, lack of adherence. Games can provide a fun and innovative way to reach new audiences.
  4. Early success stories for health games suggest meaningful public health benefits. Four examples of health games with measurable clinical results are outlined in the PharmExec article.
  5. Serious players are supporting the growth of health games, including health insurers such as Humana, and foundations like Robert Wood Johnson, Annenberg, Lance Armstrong and Sesame Workshop’s Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

Bring More to Your Brand’s Arsenal

Games for health can provide many benefits to a brand– from education and entertainment, to improving adherence or training (See Marketing Implications). As you plan for 2010 and beyond, consider these seven lessons for boosting health game development, as presented by this year’s Games For Health Conference speakers:

  • Focus on FUN–Keeping up the fun factor takes creativity and insight
  • Provide relevant value through absolute clarity of the target, the desired customer experience, and the unique value proposition
  • Personalize the experience wherever possible
  • Keep it simple. Deliver a guided experience that is easy and doesn’t make consumers have to think too much or work too hard.
  • Think 24/7 experience. Consider many channels and platforms
  • Maximize social interactions via sharing, support, and competition
  • Keep metrics and measurement front-and-center

Healthcare games hold huge potential for the pharma industry, by both engaging consumers and improving health and brand outcomes–all in an interactive electronic format that will be an important part of consumers’ lives for many years to come…

Games for Health may even represent pharma’s chance to leapfrog Web 2.0 straight to Healthcare 3.0…Can you imagine?

What do you think?