Can Mobile Game Tactics Increase Medication Adherence Rates?

Eileen Oldfield, Associate Editor
Published Online: Friday, August 22, 2014
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Game tactics, including rewards and competitions with friends, are making their way into mobile medication adherence apps.


If you ask Jason Oberfest, medication adherence is not the most titillating topic. It is a costly issue, however, and the co-founder and CEO of Mango Health believes mobile game tactics can solve the challenge.
 
“Drug adherence may not be sexy, but it’s a $300 billion-a-year problem,” Oberfest told Reuters in an article published online August 14, 2014.
 
His company’s app, which is available for mobile Apple devices, combines the typical reminder features seen in standard medication adherence apps with features seen in many mobile games: points that can be redeemed for rewards and discounts, and peer comparisons that allow users to see how their friends are doing.
 
Meanwhile, other app developers use progress indications or accountability features to drive medication adherence. Ayogo Health, a health game design company based in Vancouver, Canada, incorporates points for progress toward a goal in its games, while MediSafe, an Israeli company, relies on accountability to keep patients on track, according to Reuters.
 
Creating health care-related apps is not absent of pitfalls, however, as the apps must meet Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requirements involving personally identifiable health information, Reuters reported.
 
Despite their promise, adherence games are not a cure-all, experts said, noting it is likely that the games will not work for certain patient populations, such as those who cannot afford medications or suffer from side effects.


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