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What Can Pokémon Go Teach Us about Patient Engagement?


Widely considered the most successful video game launch in history, Pokémon Go generated over 100 million downloads and reached over $10 million in revenue per day.  Why the obsession -- and what can it teach us about patient engagement?

Pokémon Go is an online video game in which players walk around real-world locations “capturing” animated virtual monsters displayed on a simulated map on their Smartphone screens.  Players collect “boosts” and bonuses when they catch their virtual prey.

With “high player engagement” cited by experts as a major driver of the game’s popularity, Pokémon Go has some powerful lessons for pharma:

  1. Lesson #1: Mobile matters.
    Experts agree that Pokémon Go’s broad accessibility on mobile devices is a major factor in its appeal.  Similarly, patients are more engaged in managing their own health when they can access, share, and track relevant information on virtually any mobile device or platform.
  2. Lesson #2: Gamification works. 
    Just as incentives motivate Pokémon Go players, the viihealth Health Hub® platform rewards patients with badges and prizes for making positive behavior changes.  According to a 2003 World Health Organization study, motivation – rather than information alone – is a critical independent driver of behavior change.
  3. Lesson #3:  “It takes a village.”  This African proverb speaks to the power of community and shared experiences.  Just as Pokémon Go involves interacting with others, making meaningful lifestyle changes requires engagement across a community of stakeholders, including doctors, caregivers, family members, and friends.

Our viihealth Health Hub® patient engagement platform incorporates human-centered design principles to foster deeper engagement between HCPs and patients.  Our cloud-based mobile-savvy platform integrates vital information across multiple devices and systems, including wearables.  Entertaining game-based alerts, triggers, and notifications motivate positive patient behavior change.  Patients can easily allow family members and caregivers access to the platform for support in making lifestyle changes.  And our platform enables efficient rollout of turn-key programs for your brand portfolio or enterprise at a lower cost and shorter time to market.

At viihealth®, we realize that overcoming patient engagement challenges demands new approaches and new capabilities.  With better patient outcomes and stronger pharma commercial results at stake, it just may demand rethinking the rules of the game… and perhaps learning a thing or two from a brand-new game.