How to approach gamification in healthcare marketing.

With patient-centricity becoming the healthcare industry’s gold standard, finding new ways to engage with patients is paramount, and gamification can be a powerful asset. Healthcare marketers have taken notice of this growing trend, and in the last several years, they’ve started using game-driven mechanics, methods, and design to engage customers and employees.

Here’s just one example: Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company, created an app called Monster Manor for children with type 1 diabetes. The app is a game that encourages kids to test and record their glucose levels, and it has helped get children more engaged in their health management.

As a professional marketer and an avid gamer since the days of Pong, I have major appreciation for the thinking behind gamification. Recently I’ve noticed several common elements game designers use to drive engagement that anyone in healthcare marketing can learn from. Here are the top eight.

1. Behavior-focused goals.

The most successful game initiatives are tied to goals for individuals to accomplish. When the goals focus on positively changing user behaviors, causing them to interact with your content and complete the desired action (like with Sanofi’s Monster Manor), the user is more likely to succeed. The game must do more than entertain.

2. Multiple levels.

Games that provide a sense of accomplishment and reward through increasingly difficult levels will add to a positive outcome. The more the user population plays, the greater the sense of accomplishment, which is a common factor in creating engagement.

3. Competition.

Humans are wired to be competitive – and the type of competition varies by age. Younger audiences are more likely to enjoy competing against their friends; they love seeing their name on top of a leaderboard. Older and more mature audiences may appreciate self-competition, such as improving their skill at the game or trying to beat their own high scores. Paying attention to the age and maturity level of your audience is key.

4. Achievements and badges.

It is human nature to enjoy rewards, and game-driven mechanics with achievements and badges give gamers another sense of accomplishment and pride. Marketers might even tie the “prize” to a tangible reward, like a gift card. For best results, it’s important that badges and achievements be directly linked to the overall strategy of changing user behaviors to meet your goals.

5. Simple and fun.

Even the most-complex games, like virtual open-world environments, with branching storylines and artificial intelligence characters, must be simple and fun. The game mechanics should be basic: intuitive, easy to understand, short, and specific; one action must lead to one outcome.

6. Strong user experience (UX).

Working with the right UX team is important. A UX specialist is versed in understanding human behaviors when interacting with a screen. Experts in this field know how to use design and technology to ensure that the game is balanced, intuitive, easy to use, and relevant.

7. Social validation.

Create the ability for users to share their successes through social channels, or create an online community where they can talk with other users. This approach provides social validation that keeps users motivated and engaged.

8. Avatar personalization.

As humans, we want to express our individuality. And this doesn’t change in games. The ability to customize avatars to represent one’s desired personality is a big driver in user engagement. Time spent setting up an avatar before someone even plays the game can create a deeper level of engagement – and the more options, the better. You can even tie the avatar process into the game’s reward system, where new ways to customize a player’s avatar are unlocked each time a reward is earned or a level is passed.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use gamification in healthcare marketing, drop us a line.