Gamification can be found everywhere—from boardrooms to classrooms, and even on social media. The practice has gained widespread recognition over the last few years through its incorporation into marketing, healthcare, business, politics, and technology design. Subsequently, pharma is embracing the recent trend in healthcare gamification, and utilising this technology to engage both healthcare providers (HCPs) and payers (including patients).
Marketing challenges in the pharma industry
Amidst the harsh environment of the commercial pharmaceutical industry, which is characterised by cost constraints in healthcare and heavy scrutiny on the value of medicines, the development of successful marketing campaigns is uniquely challenging. The inclusion of differentiation strategies can facilitate marketing opportunities and increase product sales; however, this may not be enough. Healthcare payers constantly demand better clinical and economical therapies.
Challenges, such as demographic factors, patient-population shifts, ever-changing legal/regulatory requirements, and generic-product competition, are mainly country-specific. Globally, pharma-related challenges depend upon the organisation’s nature (i.e. size and span of control). Value creation, brand building, and differentiation remain major challenges to effective pharma marketing. Thus far, overcoming these issues has proven to be an uphill task, and there remains a strong need for pharma marketers to create product and brand value in order to stand apart from competitors.
The role of healthcare gamification
Research and case studies provide evidence that healthcare gamification improves both patient compliance and health outcomes. Using gamification as part of a marketing strategy can help companies deliver their message to a wider audience and boost marketing efforts in several ways.
- Gamification can promote therapies. By creating interactive, educational health content, gamification can be utilised to promote new and existing therapies. As an example, Sanofi has collaborated with different digital marketing and health agencies to develop interactive mobile apps for patients with diabetes. Sanofi’s lifestyle app, GoMeals, promotes balanced nutrition and health monitoring by awarding achievement badges, as well as providing visualisation of the user’s daily habits and how those habits impact their condition. The company’s kid-friendly apps are developed specifically for children with type 1 diabetes. In Monster Manor, in-app rewards encourage children to track and input their glucose levels. In Mission T1D, children and their parents are introduced to an interactive, educational game with unlockable messages and shareable videos containing easy-to-understand health information pertinent to those living with type 1 diabetes.
- Gamification can increase engagement between pharma, HCPs, and patients. HCPs regularly use interactive technology to communicate with patients. With gamification, pharma can provide responsible, educational health content for health-awareness campaigns. As such, Sanofi’s GoMeals and Monster Manor also encourage engagement between patients, HCPs, and pharma by providing accessibility to patients’ health information to facilitate positive patient outcomes, as well as product promotion and public health-awareness. The number of active app users can also be used as a survey tool to assess product acceptance and brand perception.
- Gamification can facilitate physician education. Medical professionals are interested in improving patient health outcomes in less time, which pharma companies can help achieve by implementing gamification. One study showed that physicians provided with an online gamified spaced-education game, as a continuing learning tool, achieved better patient outcomes than those who read online information. A poll highlighted physician willingness to engage in a competitive online environment to learn more about healthcare trends and future health forecasts. This demonstrates that HCPs are open to the idea of healthcare gamification as part of continuing professional development efforts.
Interactive creativity, coupled with proactive health information endorsement, can help build the reputation of brand, increase customer engagement, and improve consumer loyalty. Although gamification within pharma marketing is still in its early stages, with several challenges to successful implementation, the potential benefits are wide-reaching. Indeed, the effective use of gamification could take pharmaceutical marketing to entirely new heights.