Improve patient engagement

Gamification is a highly effective tool to motivate and engage patients. Clinical and wellness programs can be improved by incorporating game design elements such as points and levels in order to better engage patients.

Key learnings from our research and consulting projects

Increasing engagement

Gamification uses game design elements to better engage and motivate patients to reach their goals. Knowing which element to apply in which setting is key—while some behavioral principles work in some individuals, those same principles may have unintended consequences in others.

Competition, collaboration and encouragement from a support person can not only motivate individuals to increase their physical activity, but have also been shown to have sustained effects in the months following a physical activity program.
Game elements such as points, levels, and the “fresh start effect” can enhance the game elements listed above, working to engage individuals in the game and further motivate behavior.
Personalized goal setting is an important step to any behavior change program. Making a goal unique to an individual, and setting the goal based on a baseline period can create more achievable goals.


Programs tend to have initial uptake but the key to the success of any program - be it a wellness program or a clinical trial, is longer term engagement and sustained use. This is where programs tend to have challenges. Tools such as gamification have been proven to help. The key is designing the program the right way.


n prior work, we used a behaviorally designed gamification intervention to significantly increase physical activity during a 6-month period with sustained effects in the 3 months after the intervention stopped. Participants in the competition arm walked about 100 miles more than control during the study.
In another trial we designed using gamification techniques, we found that after 1 year in the program, significant increases in physical activity were sustained in two of the gamification arms. The third group was identified as needing a very different kind of intervention.
We have demonstrated success in using behaviorally informed gamification techniques to increase physical activity in variety of groups—family units with older, more sedentary individuals; those with heart disease; and type 2 diabetics.