Ask anyone who has ever tried to get others to eat well, exercise, diet, or go for a medical examination, and they will tell you—consumer engagement is the name of the game. Yes, even with advanced technology, users, patients, consumers, need to play along.
And if you look at pharma and note that patients—even HIV patients and those after a transplant—don’t always adhere to their medication, you will realize that, for companies, this is a game where they need serious moves to win. And for users, patients, people, this is a game where they feel they need a reason to play, because sometimes a medical need just is not enough.
Biogaming, the winner of the Innovation Award at the 2014 eHealth Venture Summit I co-organized at MEDICA, the world’s largest medical device trade show, knows this game inside out. It takes the excruciating act of physical therapy, and gamifies. But not in a "we’ll give you points for doing physical therapy" sort of way. The company turns physical therapy, a practice necessary to rehabilitation, into a 3D game. Illness and disability go out the door. Challenge, race courses, lakes and what not, enter. A quote on the company website says it all: "BioGaming's system makes you forget about your injury! It makes you think about going to the next level."
Going to the next level means reaching out beyond the clinics to people who may or may not admit they have a problem, and may never set foot inside a clinic. I’m talking about huge untapped audiences suffering from hearing impairment.
The World Health Organization estimates that 360 million people worldwide suffer disabling hearing loss. One of the causes is exposure to excessive noise. And if any of you clubbers or music listeners are wondering if you’re heading toward being part of the statistic, you should rush toward the nearest hearing clinic.
Or maybe you won’t, because hearing clinics are (no offense to anyone), not sexy. Indeed, studies show that stigma has a direct impact on physical and psychological outcomes (Petrie et al., 2007; Quinn & Earnshaw, 2011).
Enter Mimi, a startup that presented in my 2015 eHealth Venture Summit at MEDICA. They offer an app for a hearing test, and an app that takes into account your hearing difficulties, and improves your music experience.
Their moto is "Make love to your ears with the best sound experience you've ever had. By adding clarity and depth you will hear more of your music than ever before. Say goodbye to missing out." Make love, no less. The Mimi Music App adjusts music to your hearing needs, and this is where the lovemaking comes in.
Mimi's managing director, Henrik Mattheis, spoke at the event about the Mimification of hearing. He caters to a large crowd who wonders about hearing loss, but walks away from stigma. With the Mimi hearing test app, the clinic door is left wide open. You don’t need to have a diagnosed difficulty to enter, indeed you don’t need to go to a clinic. All you need is to want to make love to your ears, and have an awesome music experience. And who can resist making love to their ears? Off with the stigma of being hearing impaired. In our fast paced, unforgiving world, to stop and admit you are imperfect, is a deterrent. Making love to your ears, however, is a different thing.
The more companies gamify and Mimify, the more we will want to play along, doing the things that are good for us, and having fun in the process.