PROMOTING health? It's all in the game.
Meet Roxxi a feisty and fully-armed virtual nanobot. Billed as "medicine's mightiest warrior", she's fighting an epic battle deep inside the human body, where she launches rapid-fire assaults on malignant cells.
Or if it's not cancer, but diabetes you're fighting, why not join Britney and Hunter, two digital kids whose adventures to other worlds are spurred on by regular and timely updates of your blood sugar levels.
They are a far cry from chemotherapy, diabetes medications, or aspirin, but Roxxi, Britney and Hunter are some of the buzz products from the brains of those who want to promote health and sell medicines.
Gamification turning boring, unpleasant, but necessary tasks into an online game is a new way of thinking that is gaining momentum among drugmakers and health campaigners.
It's an idea that seeks to use natural human instincts playing and learning to help patients to get to know their illness better, and adhere properly to treatment regimens or disease-monitoring programmes.
"We all grew up learning through play," said Christian Dawson, strategy director at Woolley Pau Gyro, a London-based healthcare advertising agency.
Developed in 2006 by HopeLab, a non-profit US organisation focused on children's health, and featuring the tumour-fighting Roxxi, it is designed to give patients a sense of power and control over the disease, and help them understand why they must have certain treatments, and what those treatments will do.
But research published in the journal Pediatrics found that children who played ReMission showed improved behavioural and psychological factors linked with successful cancer treatment.
Indeed, major drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer among them have reported success with campaigns centred around gamification designed first to attract, and then teach, doctors and other health workers.
GSK won a marketing award for an online game called "Paper to Patient" designed to help doctors learn about important, but rather tiresome policy changes on how to manage patients with an illness called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And a Pfizer game called "Back in Play" designed to help players spot early signs of a progressive form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, won an award for public education. Reuters
Monday, July 2, 2012
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