Gamification case study # 36- Patient Partner app uses gamification to improve medication adherence
Gamification case study # 36- Patient Partner app uses gamification to improve medication adherence

What do you get when your patients don’t take their medications or adhere to a treatment plan? Readmissions to the inpatient wards, $300 billion of healthcare utilization, and 125,000 needless deaths. The new PatientPartner mobile game aims to boost adherence by giving patients something to play for 15 minutes while waiting in the doctor’s waiting room.

The game unfolds by telling a fictional patient’s health story, like a clinical case. Reminiscent of a Choose Your Own Adventure book — in a more interactive, engaging form — the video game player decides at critical points what to do about the game character’s health.

In one clinical study, use of the app increased medication adherence by 37%.

CyberDoctor CEO & founder Akhila Satish, MS, who drew from her life sciences research experience at the National Institutes of Health, University of Pennsylvania, & University of Michigan, spearheaded the project.

The app draws on the experience of director Mantosh Dewan MD, a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and former chair of SUNY Upstate Medical University’s Department of Psychiatry.

iMedicalApps: And what about the study? Dr. Dewan, was this something you were able to test in your residency program or clinics?

Mantosh Dewan, MD: It was tested independently at outside sites in IRB-approved clinical trials. It’s very hard to find an IRB-clinically approved trial of any app. Because we were trying to get away from subjectivity, we wanted objective measures, so we looked at non-adherent measures for DM patients in a standard clinical practice and used HgbA1C.

Because PatientPartner works with general complexity theory, [we didn’t] target diabetes, cancer, or stroke. We wanted something brief and generic. There are many other apps that are targeted towards [specific] diseases.

Akhila Satish, MS: It’s easy to assume it’s just for diabetes, because we used that biological marker of Hgb A1C, but the principles scale out to everyone. [We could have] looked at something more universal like blood pressure, but there are so many other factors that could impact the blood pressure that day in the study. So we used Hgb A1C because we wanted a quantitative, objective marker to test our product out with, not because PatientPartner is a product only for diabetic patients.