UPDATED: Merck turns to gamification to help Type 2 diabetics

In June, the CEO of health gaming company Ayogo said he was working with an unnamed Big Pharma on a Type 2 diabetes project that was "probably the most beautiful thing" the firm had created. Now, the CEO has given further details of the game and revealed the identity of the client--Merck ($MRK).

The framework underpinning the game has been through one pilot project with an academic partner and is on to a second. Merck is now evaluating the game, called the "Type 2 Travelers Project." Players create an avatar and then complete minigames to win gold coins. These coins allow the user to advance to the next part of the world, where more games and more coins await. The description could apply to innumerable games developed since the inception of the field decades ago, but it is the community element Ayogo thinks will set it apart.

Interaction with the online diabetes community is central to the game, with players sharing their reasons for wanting to control the disease. Depression is a common complication of living with diabetes and the community aspect is intended to tackle this using inspiring stories that help lessen the feeling of isolation. "Our goal is to help diabetics get their condition under control. Users feel like they are getting gold for having fun but really they get it for engagement," Ayogo CEO Michael Fergusson told MedCity News.

Biopharma companies are increasingly looking to gamification to improve patient outcomes. Taking Merck as an example, the effectiveness of its diabetes drug Januvia is partly dependent on patients sticking to the treatment regimen and managing other aspects of their health. The "Type 2 Travelers Project" is built to help patients help themselves. Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis ($NVS) and Sanofi ($SNY) have also enlisted Ayogo to help with gamification projects.

- read MedCity News' article
- check out the earlier news

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