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Health companies use mobile gaming apps that reward patients for taking their meds on time

Forgetting to take your vitamins every now and then is one thing – it’s another thing to forget to take medications that can prevent life-threatening conditions. Some health-focused companies are looking to a surprising source of inspiration to help keep patients on track with their meds: the mobile gaming industry.

Taking a page from popular mobile games such as Candy Crush, companies such as HealthPrize, Mango Health and Ayogo Health are using smartphone apps to reward patients whenever they adhere to their medication schedule.

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HealthPrize Technologies LLC was founded in 2009 with the mission to fight medication non-adherence, which accounts for $290 billion in avoidable medical spending each year in the U.S., according to the company. Its solution is a four-pronged approach: education (e.g., daily tips, weekly quizzes), gamification (e.g., badges, leaderboards), prompts (e.g., daily medication reminders, activity notifications) and rewards (e.g., points, coupons).

Earlier this month, HealthPrize partnered with West Pharmaceuticals Services Inc., a maker of devices for injectable drugs. As a result of this partnership, a customized device will let a patient’s smartphone know whenever a drug has been injected. This will be logged by HealthPrize’s platform, which will reward patients for sticking to their medication regimen.

HealthPrize also announced a partnership with Connexions Loyalty this week to open up the door for pharmaceutical companies to more ways to reward and motivate patients to keep to their medication schedules.

Mango Health is another company fighting drug non-adherence with gamification. One look at its bright logo and it’s clear that the company takes direct inspiration from mobile gaming – not a coincidence, given that its co-founder and CEO, Jason Oberfest, has experience in the mobile gaming industry.

When a patient uses the Mango Health app to adhere to their medication schedule, they earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards or donations. Mango Health also delivers helpful medication information via its app, in addition to a journal of a patient’s activity and comparisons to peers.

Oberfest says the average Mango Health app user is a woman in her mid-50s – a demographic that’s quite similar to a large segment of mobile gamers.

Ayogo Health is yet another company leveraging the power of mobile games to improve medication adherence. Its Monster Manor game, for instance, helps families of children with Type 1 diabetes stick to their testing and logging schedules. Meanwhile, I <3 Jellyfish helps children regulate their heartbeat, which is helpful before surgery, for example.

Of course, patients aren’t the only ones who benefit from gaming: surgeons do, too.