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Health eGames: Gaming Benefits, Especially For Patients With Chronic Diseases

Posted by | 12:27pm on Wednesday, November 12, 2008

videogamers (found in 71% of U.S. households) are more social than non-gamers, more influential about entertainment and gadgets, and more likely to be part of the “early adopter” crowd (likely to pay a premium for the newest technology). 

Gaming 4 HealthI met a really interesting woman named Teri Louden recently who runs a healthcare portal called gaming4health.com. She is really doing great things promoting gaming as a way to engage people in their own healthcare and step into health 2.0.

iConecto estimates that health eGames – video games intended to deliver health benefits – will be a market of approximately $7 billion between mid-2008 and mid-2009. This includes sub-categories like brain fitness, exergaming, and other consumer and professional health eGames.

Plus, a recent study by IGN Entertainment and Ipsos Media CT maintains that videogamers (found in 71% of U.S. households) are more social than non-gamers, more influential about entertainment and gadgets, and more likely to be part of the “early adopter” crowd (likely to pay a premium for the newest technology).

Does this sound like an audience you can afford to ignore?

Here are three new ways to view gaming with a healthcare lens:

  • Treatment Benefits – Glucoboy is a blood glucose meter that works with the Nintendo Game Boy system. Patients are encouraged to test their blood regularly, thereby gaining Glucose Reward Points which can be used to unlock video games or spent within an online gaming community.
  • Health Benefits – 20.5% of casual game players have some physical, mental, or developmental disability (Survey – Information Solutions Group on behalf of PopCap Games). While many in the healthcare field may write off games as child’s play, the survey results show otherwise. 61% of those surveyed with a physical disability were age 50 or older. The gamers listed many benefits, including stress relief, mood-lifting, and improved concentration.
  • Communication benefits – In the June-July issue of I.G. Living! magazine (free subscription required), Mark Haggard tells the story of how he explained his son’s CVID treatments using language he could understand.

“I have been speechless. That was until I applied the language of Pokémon to immune deficiency… ‘Tonight,’ I announced while taking the bottle from the bag, ‘inside my child’s lymph nodes: Streptococcus vs. Amoxicillin!’… ‘I’m talking on your level, Son. Imagine inside your body, two dudes show up doing a Pokémon battle. One guy says, ‘Streptococcus, I choose you.’ The other guy says, ‘Amoxicillin, I choose you.’ The battle is on.”

eGames may not be the perfect vehicle for your marketing message. But paying attention to societal trends and developing messages that fit your audience – that is the key to great marketing.

I recently wrote about the rise of the e-Patient – those patients who are more engaged with their treatment and educating themselves online. Maybe eGames are a way for you to educate e-Patients in your target audience?

(Image courtesy of themindofandre via Flickr)

About Wendy White

Since founding Siren Interactive in 1999, Wendy has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of niche pharma brands, patient empowerment and online marketing. Her vision for how the internet can facilitate interactions and provide crucial information that patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers previously struggled to find has propelled Siren to the forefront of relationship marketing for rare disorder therapies.

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