Playing with patients’ lives—Gamification

David Bell | 20 September 2018

Gaming is something I have always been, and probably always will be, interested in. For me, it’s a diverse form of entertainment with enthralling storylines and a series of rewarding challenges. With 2.2 billion gamers worldwide,1 I’m most definitely not alone in my enjoyment of video games. It’s therefore not surprising that the rise in the number of gamers has coincided with a surge in the use of gamification for learning in the pharmaceutical sector.

In pharma, gamification is being used to make historically dry content into something more enjoyable, such as gamified e-learning for sales reps or apps to improve the adherence of patients to their medicines. It is being applied more and more and has been shown to have a positive impact on both healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients.

A great example of this is Bridge2Care, which aimed to fix the broken link between HIV patient diagnoses and continued care. Merck created this e-learning platform to provide interesting skills training in communication, patient engagement and quality of care to physicians.2 As the user follows the journey of patients and physicians, they have to watch videos and complete interactive games to earn points and badges. Of the 25 HIV service organisations in New York City that tested Bridge2Care, 93% of users believed they were well prepared to understand and engage with their patients following this training.2

With the main aim of pharma being to improve patient outcomes, using gamified learning with HCPs is a real prospect for helping to achieve this. In a study looking to improve the management of high blood pressure, clinicians were given identical information either as part of an online spaced-education game or simply as an online post.3 Clinicians who participated in the game saw, on average, a significant reduction in the time taken for their patients to reach their blood pressure targets compared to the online post group.

One of my favourite examples of gamification aims to dispel the misinformation surrounding paediatric clinical studies. Developed by scientific and technology experts, Paper Kingdom is a computer game where children must find their brother by helping in-game characters.4 Through completing challenges, they learn about clinical trials and how they can be beneficial. Not only did the game win a number of awards and help educate parents and children, but playing it was also very enjoyable (I’ve had a go myself!).

Gamification therefore may be an effective tool “to engage HCPs, boost learning, optimise practice patterns, and improve patient outcomes”.3 At Cuttsy+Cuttsy we believe this to be true. As part of a recent project, we used gamified learning to embed product knowledge in a sales team. This included a card game where users had to match a treatment card to its correct line of therapy. Another solution involved designing an energising gameshow where teams had to present the benefits of competitor drugs in a fierce competition against each other. As well as cementing knowledge, both of these instances provided training in a fun environment.

Want to know how gamified learning for patients, sales reps and HCPs can ultimately improve patient outcomes? Then let’s talk:




3. Kerfoot BP et al. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes 2014;7:468–474 (Available here)