Lessons from Pokemon Go for Healthcare

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The party poopers of gamification (occasional, my bad too) have had several reasons to moan against vile video/ mobile games. The one that takes the crown for turning them into these major Moaning Myrtles is that v-games turn children and many an adult into couch bound, oblivious-to-the-surrounding, super attention deficit, zombies. The only sign of life exhibited is by their flying fingers.

The phenomenon of the last few weeks has not just stifled these moans but has shocked them into silence. Pokemon has mellowed the jehadis-against-games into a votary and converted a couple of them into champions too. Pokémon Go has managed to move the zombie. And not a nugatory move at that. It has got them outdoors! Goodbye couch, thou shalt now rest.

People, not just the young but the young old are hunting for Pokémon in offices, streets, hospitals, bathrooms, markets. Pokémon, from the Nintendo basket, has not just shaken the gamers out of their couch crouch but the marketing world too. It’s available as a free download on Android and iOS and is set to beat Twitter in DAUs. In terms of usage, it is apparently ahead of Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat and Messenger, clocking an average use of more than 40 minutes per day.

Pokemon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect which Pokemon can appear around you so that you can catch them. This encourages you to move and travel around to catch the different Pokemon. There are 151 of them.

It’s for the first time in years I have seen my son walk for an hour said an ecstatic mom of a 16-year-old. It was as if my 8-year-old came with the couch…but now he’s visiting the grocery, the park, and the museum. Power be to the power of moving the zombie!

It’s a great lesson in not just how to re-engage your customers but to work on the encumbrance of gamification as well. From flying fingers to flying feet, Pokemon Go has melted the resistance in general. For the healthcare industry, it’s a great lesson on how gamification can work to solve diabetes and obesity. How mobile, the most penetrated platform, can be used for health benefits. Now that Pokemon Go has matured users to Augmented Reality interactions, there can be significantly more opportunities in the future. What Pokemon GO has done in a matter of weeks, education may be able to achieve in decades. Pharma and healthcare needs to think how to create additional value through engagement that results in a change in behavior. Maybe edutainment and edugagement is the new lexicon for the digital consumer.

Large groups gatherings are going on collective Pokemon hunting. Pokemon Go has mobilized communities around it. The power of communities to impact health is way greater and faster than what a single physician or health institution can achieve. Getting them excited is where it all starts.

Excitement of these mega proportions also runs the risk of the emergence of a new sect of Moaning Myrtles. It can be dangerous…they will wail (There’s a Poke Stop at the police station too!)

But for now finding Pikachu is the way to Go.

– Rashmi Thosar
CEO, Brandcare