According to the “State of Online Gaming 2018” market research report, 32% of video game enthusiast respondents to an international survey said they would quit their job if they could support themselves as professional video gamers.
While no one is expecting gamers to line up in droves to “play” in clinical trials, per se, some tech pioneers believe the psychology and design of certain online games can be adapted to improve clinical trial recruitment and retention.
Patient technology and participant gaming can be a unique way to increase retention, improve data entry compliance, and enhance overall participant satisfaction in the study, says Paul Glimcher, CEO of Data Cubed, a healthcare technology company that collects accurate, real-world data and electronic clinical outcome assessment (eCOA) solutions tailored to everything from remote patient engagement to virtual clinical trials. “Under ideal conditions, one can achieve compliance rates at or above 95%,” he says.
Gaming can be used with other patient interactions for study-related tasks, incentives, push notifications, and validated scales, Glimcher says. “It is a basic tenet of user experience science that, if the technology can be well aligned with a participant’s identity, it can significantly improve the quality and timeliness of compliance,” he notes.
It’s no surprise that the average gamer skews on the young side. However, Glimcher insists age isn’t as significant a barrier as one my suspect. “We have run several populations through our user interface design, and [have found that] the techniques are compelling for populations aged between 25 and 75,” he says.
“Of course, children love these technologies, but we find that these approaches yield significant benefits at all ages,” Glimcher adds. For example, he says, “some study designs only require tasks and eCOA with high engagement, while other studies prefer a more ‘addictive game.’ We do both, but have found game-aware approaches [to be] very effective.”
Still, even if gaming continues to be a stronger inducement among younger population subsets, it is clearly not without an overall value. It’s incumbent on the clinical trial industry to recruit more young patients for a number of reasons, Glimcher says. “Many of the rare disease studies need to target younger populations so that treatments can make a difference early,” he notes.
Author: Michael Causey