To Improve Health Care, Look to Video Games

To Improve Health Care, Look to Video Games


Leading researcher prescribes ‘Gamification’ for better outcomes

July 12, 2018

Lowell Goodman, Corbomite Communications
(323) 646-3249 |

Los Angeles — Healthcare companies are using apps and other digital tools to get their patients to change behaviors and embrace smarter lifestyle choices. But over the long-term, patients often lose interest in these programs and revert to bad habits. The solution? A leading industry expert from the media and technology insights firm Interpret says healthcare providers should use what the gaming industry knows about player engagement to keep people healthier over the long-term.

“The healthcare industry needs to do a better job of gamifying health solutions to turn the seemingly tedious experience of tracking, monitoring, and coaching healthy habits into a fun and engaging experience that consumers want to do more of every day,” said Harry Wang, Interpret’s vice president of strategy and insights.

Wang published his findings in a white paper called “Gamifying Engagement To Drive Behavioral Change,” which was released today and is available on Interpret’s website. Wang is a market researcher by training who has spent more than a decade studying technology trends and consumer behaviors with a strong focus on digital health and
wellness topics.

Wang undertook his report after noting that pressure is escalating on the healthcare industry to rein in costs and make care more affordable, which requires the industry to influence and change consumers’ personal health behaviors. Wang immediately thought of game developers, who have mastered innovative methods to increase player engagement in both the short- and long-term.

“Game developers can determine where in a game a player struggles most (hence the opportunity to sell him a new piece of weaponry), when the player starts to lose interest, (followed by incentives to extend game play time) or, what triggers a player to pick up where he left off from the last session,” writes Wang.

Within the white paper, Wang notes several positive trends, and he highlights specific examples within health care where gamification elements are already being deployed to bolster user engagement and improve patient outcomes: diabetes management and prevention (Noom’s Diabetes Prevention Program); consumer wellness and health prevention (Humana’s Go365 program); smoking cessation (Truth Initiative’s BecomeAnEX and EX programs); and patient communications and outreach (HMS|Eliza’s Engagement Management solution and Conversa Health Chats).

Case Study: Humana
Wang cites health and well-being company Humana’s popular Go365 program as an example of the successful application of gamification techniques to improve health outcomes. Go365 enrollees collect points as they participate in personalized activities and modify their lifestyles in order to reach their health goals. These earned points, which are tracked via an app or website, establish a member’s status that is used, in certain cases, to determine their insurance premium discounts. The points can also be redeemed for health related products and gift cards. Humana’s data shows that health expenditures for members who are engaged in the program for three or more years are reduced by an average of 10%. Those members
are also less likely to miss work as a result of illness. “We designed Go365 knowing that engagement would be the key to improving long-term health and reducing costs,” said Stuart Slutzky, Humana’s Chief, Product Innovation, Humana Wellness Solutions. “In that sense, we knew that the program would have to leverage gamification that has proven to be successful in other loyalty and rewards programs. Go365 is responsive to the individual participant’s needs and behaviors and designed to capture the user’s attention over the long-term.”

About Interpret
Interpret is an insights firm focused on media, entertainment, and technology. Using leading-edge
quantitative and qualitative research, Interpret provides marketers with comprehensive views of the
marketplace and actionable data. For more information, visit

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