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  • 11 February 2014
  • Adam Clatworthy

Gamification: Is it Good for your health?

One of the benefits of being married to a nurse, apart from coping with the deadly man-flu, is that I’m always able to put my own stress and strife into perspective – especially with the age old saying that floats around the industry: “remember, it’s PR not ER”.

It’s also really interesting to hear about the latest developments in the healthcare sector as a whole. Technology innovation is not something that you tend to associate with healthcare and the NHS, with local practices currently looking at how they can implement Jeremy Hunt’s paperless initiative and some struggling to even digitise patient records.

So imagine my surprise when the word gamification was uttered over dinner the other night. It was certainly a welcome break from Made in Chelsea and TOWIE.

For those of you not accustomed to the term, gamification is a concept that is hugely exciting. It effectively applies game thinking and mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.

The always-on digital and smartphone age has expanded opportunities for gamification and it’s already being used across a number of different fields, such as human resources, education, e-commerce and health and fitness. According to M2, the market for gamification apps and services rose to about half a billion dollars in 2013, and could rise to $2.8 billion by 2016.

Gamification has now been introduced as a way to help children with type 1 diabetes better manage their condition, especially important as they’re expected to take on increasing responsibility for testing and logging their own blood glucose levels. With only 15% of young children managing to achieve their blood glucose targets,Sanofi Diabetes has developed an app with Ayogo Health and Diabetes UK in an effort to encourage children to test and record their blood glucose levels more regularly.

The concept is simple. Monster Manor provides an engaging experience for children by rewarding them with gifts and prizes within the game when they test their blood glucose regularly. Research has shown that just one extra test a day for teenagers leads to a 0.4% reduction in blood sugar levels, which could be very significant for their health.

I’ve witnessed first-hand how children are finding regular blood glucose monitoring very hard to accept within their daily routine, sometimes leading to a lot of tension in families. By turning testing into a game, the early signs show it’s helping young children achieve tighter blood glucose control, which will help them reduce the risk of developing the serious complications associated with diabetes in later life.

While it’s still early days, it’s great to see that gamification is leading to real benefits on the lives of those suffering with a medical condition, rather than simply achieving financial gain.

And with the UK Government this week backing the Year of Code campaign, we’re sure to see more budding developers emerge with innovative new ways to solve the world’s most common problems.

Adam Clatworthy

Account Director