Playing to Win Patient Engagement

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media , September 7, 2011

The online contest draws the audience of moms back to the website not only to view the pictures of their children, but also receive information about the Family Birth Center.

Gaming techniques such as contests can play to our natural competitive drive.

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Gabe Zichermann, CEO of the iPhone apps development firm beamME and a marketing author who coined the term gamification, compares the technique to the operations of a casino. A casino operator, for example, knows the yield of a slot machine to a high degree of certainty, he says.

A marketer placing a static billboard can't be as certain about what that ad will inspire consumers to do. "Where possible, I would, as a marketer, prefer to put a game in front of my users, because I'll get more predictability, more engagement, more time spent," Zichermann said.

"Games are a powerful mechanism for manipulating user behavior."

Gamification should be on the minds of marketers as a cost-saving way to include employees and patients in the activities of a facility. Online games have a competitive quality that can keep patients coming back for more. Contests can be as simple as posting rules and a sign-up sheet around the building and can payoff in employee engagement and patient education.

Marketers, it's time to play – you have nothing to lose.

Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Anna Webster, Online Content Coordinator for HealthLeaders Media, can be reached at
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