Whether we like to admit it or not, many of us know the unique rush that comes from swiping a series of multicolored jelly beans in Candy Crush. We’ve experienced the thrill of landing a triple word score in Words With Friends, and we’ve known the satisfaction that comes from—of all things—successfully harvesting a field of wheat in Farmville. Gaming is a universal pursuit, triggering not only our competitive instincts but also our desires for achievement and recognition. And with the rise of app- and social-media-based games, there are more people playing than ever before: The number of online gamers is expected to reach 2.7 billion by 2021, according to gaming analytics firm NewZoo.


The widespread popularity of gaming has led marketers to seek out ways to employ game mechanics as a tool to boost consumer engagement. While this concept isn’t new—and some even consider “gamification” a buzzword gone by—the idea is taking hold in healthcare due to recent technological advancements, the continued rise of smartphones and digitization, and the treatment demands of chronic diseases. In fact, the healthcare gamification market reached more than $16 billion in 2016, according to Global Market Insights.


If done right, applying game mechanics to healthcare marketing efforts has significant potential to ensure that patients are activated, educated and engaged throughout the duration of their care, which could drive business impact and—most importantly—improve patient outcomes. In our recent article for PharmExec, we share four key steps to help pharma companies effectively apply game mechanics to their patient support programs, and develop a winning strategy for all.