Pharmaceutical Gamification Helping Families With Type I Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can be a grizzly beast of a disease for children suffering with it from a physical standpoint. Let alone the social anxiety that comes along for the ride. No child wants to stop playing with their friends to have to test their blood. Equally embarassing can be the need to be excused from the middle of class to do this.

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As a parent, how can you be certain that your child is doing these things responsibly to avoid any serious health problems? Well, help is on the way in the form of pharmaceutical gamification.

It's only in the beta testing phase, but a smartphone app called “Small Things” is being tested as a gamification solution to assist families with children with type 1 diabetes to achieve better patient adherence in consistent glucose testing. After downloading, the Small Things app sends an alert to the patient when it is time for a glucose test, and then has the child type in the results to his/her smartphone. The results can then be transmitted to the child's parents or caregiver, and as a reward, the child receives game currency that can be cashed in for “virtual monster-like creatures”. Afterwards, the child can use more currency to raise and nurture their new creature as sort of a “virtual pet”. The pet then lives in a virtual world on the child's smartphone and can be customized with many different add-ons. The child's parents get notified every time currency is earned and are therefore ensured of their child's adherence to proper glucose testing.

Funding and non-profit affiliation is still largely up in the air and yet to be determined. But pharmaceutical gamification is an idea that has been catching fire in the past year or so. Gamification itself is an industry that has been booming ever since Foursquare began with the idea of awarding mayorships and badges to its users back in 2007. If the pharmaceutical industry can use it to its advantage, and in the process get kids with type 1 diabetes to test their blood more often, then “game on!”

It's really an idea that makes complete sense. One of the biggest reasons, a child with type 1 diabetes doesn't want to test their blood is because nothing of any positive consequence can happen from it. If a child is going to go through the social anxiety it takes to separate themselves from a social group, and use proper glucose testing to treat their condition; then it makes sense that some sort of reward system may provide the incentive necessary to get kids to “play along”.

For more insights on gamification and novel strategies for improving patient care and compliance, please do take a few moments to review the agenda for the upcoming 4th Digital Pharma West conference.


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