Harnessing the Power of Pokémon Go

Michelle Ammirati by on Dec 23, 2016

What can the healthcare industry learn from Pokémon Go? At AHIP’s Consumer Experience & Digital Health Forum, Trapper Markelz, president and COO of MeYou Health, posed this question, presenting the popular augmented reality game as a model for the healthcare industry. His presentation covered the history of the app and the Pokémon frenzy over the summer of 2016, citing an article finding that Pokémon Go increased physical activity of its users. This talking point led to a discussion of how reach and effectiveness of an app can result in an overall impact that is beneficial to users’ health. What kind of impact does Pokémon Go have, and can health apps have a similar effect?

Markelz discussed in detail the three gamification components that make up a player’s journey on an app platform: mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics. These three elements of design affect how much reach a particular app can have. For instance, an app will reach a smaller audience when adding multiple themes and stories as its specificity will narrow it to fans of that theme or story. Conversely, an app that limits the number of themes and stories has less risk of alienating the masses.

Markelz gave three reasons why Pokémon Go has been so successful: activation, feedback and brand. The game requires little to no effort to get started and there are multiple forms of feedback that make players come back for more. An example of feedback would be leveling up as a trainer, which gives users a reason to continue engaging with the app. Also the brand is one of the most popular in the history of video games, which supplies a large and familiar audience.

Example of Pokemon Feedback – Levels

So how can we apply lessons from Pokémon Go to healthcare apps? Marklez points out that people using healthcare products have a purpose for being there. Though the heath industry will not have the same pull that Pokémon Go does because of brand recognition, health apps exist for the purpose-driven audience and stand a better chance of keeping the intended audience if app mechanics and dynamics are effective. This means that healthcare app designers can learn from Pokémon Go when it comes to the mechanics and dynamics of the app, making activation easy and providing consistent feedback and possibly keep a more engaged user-base.

About The Author

Michelle Ammirati

Michelle is an Analyst for Healthcare Monitor at Corporate Insight. Read more