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3 Healthcare Gamification Ideas to Boost Customer Engagement

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

*Day before my appointment!*

Ding! You have an appointment at Impla Dental Care tomorrow at 2:30 PM.

*Me* “Great, I’m going to be there right on time!”

*Few hours before my appointment!*

Your dental appointment is today at 2:30 PM.

*Me* “Duh, I know! I’ll make it.”

*Phone rings at the time of my appointment”

*Me* Zzzzz


That’s how I recently missed my dentist appointment. Was I happy about it? Of course not as I’d been dealing with a toothache for weeks! So how did I miss it?

Was I someone who can’t keep up with appointments? Nope, not really. Be it catching a flight, or reaching a place, I’m right on time actually. Then what happened here?

Alright here’s the truth. When it comes to a doctor’s appointment, a tiny-teeny part of me wants to avoid it. There, I said it!

There have also been times when I’ve missed my medication and delayed seeing a doctor. Am I proud of it? No! Am I the only one who does it? Let’s find out.

I’ll Start From Tomorrow!

If there was prize money for every time we procrastinated or avoided a health commitment, trust me we’d be rich.

Look at what I did, for example. I missed my dentist appointment and thought, “I can go tomorrow.”

Now would I have done this if I were to go to a movie? Probably not and that’s because most people don’t like to experience certain fears.

As per Psychologists, only 3% of the population has a fear of doctors — the majority feel anxious due to the fear of the unknown.

Something similar happens when it comes to Smoking Cessation. Smokers procrastinate quitting due to a lack of motivation and fear of withdrawal symptoms such as brain irritability.

Do you know why I’m talking about these two fears in particular? Because they were the ones I saw the most while working in the healthcare domain.

That’s not all, they also helped me realise why healthcare brands find it challenging to engage customers.

No-Shows and Low Participation

“Will you be coming for your appointment today?” I asked one of the students who’d booked a counselling session on campus with a Psychologist.

Due to a bandwidth crunch, some of us had jumped in to help a colleague with appointment reminder calls and mine turned out to be a no-show.

As a mental health startup, we were quite used to no-shows given the attached stigma but it was the second time I understood that engaging customers for health and wellness, is no cakewalk.

Upon asking participants of a smoking cessation campaign about the progress made, most

  1. Still smoked the same number of cigarettes

  2. Didn’t follow through on coach-assigned tasks we sent via email

The same happened during a wellness bucket and sleep improvement campaign where participants wouldn’t fill their weekly activity and daily sleep trackers, respectively.

Result? A worried marketing team left wondering, “Where did we go wrong?”.


Customer Engagement in Healthcare

We were doing pretty much what it takes to get good results

  1. Our campaign’s messaging was so catchy that we got a good number of registrations

  2. We used various channels to communicate and remind

  3. We were targeting the right people

So what were we missing?

Customer Motivation

A marketing campaign that doesn’t motivate customers to engage with it themselves is like hitting an arrow in the dark.

And it’s not me who’s saying it. Stats suggest that just about 2% of the users actively engage with their Health apps.

Why? Oh, come on, you know it! Let’s look at it this way. How often it is that we stick to a healthy lifestyle? A 2019 study revealed that 64% of Indians don’t exercise.

Now I know that when the pandemic turned the tables, many understood the importance of preventive wellness but let’s be honest, it’s not easy.

I’ve tried many apps for workouts, yoga, and meditation but I just couldn’t get into a habit of sticking to them.

This is because research says that it actually takes an average of 66 days to form a habit and neither did I have the motivation nor did the apps offer any.

So every time these apps sent me notifications, I felt like I was Chandler from F.R.I.E.N.D.S show with these apps constantly hounding me like Monika.


Fast forward to 2022, there did come an app in my life that changed this and that was Impact - a health, fitness and charity app. How? Because they were able to crack -

Gamification for Health and Well-Being

With its awesome game-like elements such as turn-steps-into-charity-money, daily streaks, badges and leaderboard, Impact was able to hook me as a customer.

So much that I’ve even written an article about it here but my zeal to learn more about gamification in healthcare didn’t end with it.

Hence, I continued my search and came across mySugr - a diabetes management app that rewards patients for actions like meal entry and taming a diabetes monster.

Now, this was something. Take a look at 3 gamification examples for health and wellness.

1. mySugr - A Gamified Diabetes Management Health App

Based in Austria, this Diabetes Tracker Log app turns diabetes into a monster and lets diabetics tame it by monitoring and treating their condition.

With this, diabetics can log important therapy data such as blood sugar, meals, activity, insulin etc. But what motivates them to do so?

Along with the app’s great features and user convenience, it is their gamification - an encouraging little monster that motivates users every step of their diabetes journey.


Story Behind mySugr Gamification

Personally, I loved the diabetes monster idea and wanted to learn further. Upon searching, it was quite interesting to note that

  1. The diabetes monster added to give a face to the "invisible" chronic condition - diabetes

  2. Someone diabetics want to yell at, but have as an ally provided they take care of it

Additionally, the app turns the otherwise exhausting and time-consuming task of collecting and managing diabetes data into points rewards.

As users make progress, a blue circle around their diabetes monster starts to reach 50 points upon reaching this, they can tame the monster and take pride in looking after their diabetes daily.

2. Pokémon GO - Gamification of Wellness

With over 45 million active users, Pokémon GO become a huge craze in 2016. Why? Let’s find out.

  1. For starters, the app was able to tap our inner child as it was built around nostalgic Pokémons.

  2. The app got immersive storytelling right. It turned the reality around players into Pokémon Fantasy enabling them to lead and live their own stories.

  3. It brought together technology and health. All players had to do was walk to find creatures and hatch eggs. Reward? Fitness!


Jawbone, a wearable fitness tracker company found that users who integrated the Pokémon GO app saw a 60% increase in daily steps log with 43% of users mentioning losing an average of 3.2 pounds per day.

3. Mango Health - Medication Gamification

I’ve seen people miss taking medication on time, including myself. The Mango Health app solves this by rewarding users for medication adherence via reminder alerts.

Here’s how -

1. A user enters medication details


2. Sets reminders


3. Review the medication with other consumables the user is taking


4. Earns points for taking medication on schedule


5. Either redeems points for gift cards or donates them to charity organizations


So cool, right? Well, that’s exactly why the Mango Health app became one of the runners-up for the Useful Apps Club 2016.

Gamification Is Not Enough

Rewind time! Remember when I said that I once worked on a sleep improvement campaign that didn’t really hit the numbers?

Well, that was gamified! We named it Sleepathon, had a weekly leaderboard based on sleep scores calculated via time and duration of sleep.

We even gave certificates to top 3 winners and then guess what happened - the engagement was still low.

Know why? Because

  1. Our execution had frictions. We couldn’t bind all the steps together.

  2. Communications weren’t personalised. If we got 10 responses, we’d send manual reminders to fill out daily sleep trackers

  3. We couldn’t create user segments to nudge those with low sleep score with healthy sleep habit tips

And gamification tools like Flyy have helped brands like Pharmarack, Medisage etc solve exact such problems by helping build comprehensive campaigns.

Would you like to fly to our product and learn more? Then go ahead and turn your healthcare app into a gamified one with Flyy.



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