Saturday, November 22, 2014

Can gamification improve patient engagement and experience?

One of the great challenges in healthcare is the engagement of the patient in lasting and meaningful ways, as well as improvement in the patient experience. Uncharted territory really and the old ways of doing things just won’t cut it.   New market realities and the rising of healthcare consumerism demand new innovation and thought. 

Gamification is not a new topic in marketing. It's been out there for a long time and used successfully by businesses to attract, retain and build the loyalty of its customers to the brand. Sometimes I do hear- "but we are healthcare, taking care of people in complex and mysterious ways that they can never understand and this isn't a game".  Correct it’s not a game, but how you engage the patient and improve the experience is closely related. And my opinion is that you can't do one without the other. Look at this through the eye glass of a new linkage between engagement and experience.

If the goal is to engage the healthcare consumer, aka the patient, to stay in network, to improve health, to be personally responsible for health, then gamification is an option. This isn't about creating negative disincentives that have been tried in the past.  Those messages of it will it will cost you more if you go out of network; you pay a penalty for non-compliance; it shortens your life kind of actions and messages if you don't do this. 

The point is one has to create a healthcare consumer that is highly motivated to act, or comply in a way that meets the goals of the healthcare organization in engaging and improving the experience.

So how does this happen?

It starts with game mechanics. Game mechanics is really the actions, tactics, mechanisms and motivational elements used to create an engaging and compelling experience for the healthcare consumer.  It's about how you design your engagement and experience strategies and tactics that keep the healthcare consumer engaged at all levels contributing to a positive experience.  

In game dynamics the healthcare enterprise taps into the motivations that result as part of the game experience driving continued participation by the healthcare consumer. The healthcare enterprise can't have effective game dynamics unless there is an understanding of what motivates the healthcare consumer. This understanding is based on the behavioral data from research that has to be conducted.

The choice of gaming tactics is an important decision. If one does not understand what motivates the healthcare consumer and how to trigger those motivations, then how can you design the game mechanics?  Do the research.

Put game mechanics and game dynamics together in the right way and you can engage the patient and improve the experience. Gamification can be a very powerful tool in marketing the healthcare enterprise.

Think about this application to healthcare at the next time you fly your favorite airline, go to a shoppers club or pull out your rewards card for something.   

Even Walgreens has this figured out.

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