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Walgreens Launches Digital Platform Utilizing Gamification to Boost Medication Adherence

August 18, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Walgreens has partnered with Norwalk, Conn.-based HealthPrize Technologies to offer a digital patient engagement and medication adherence platform for patients filling certain brand-name prescriptions on the Walgreens website.

The platform, HealthPrize Action Engine, uses gamification, concepts from behavioral economics and incentives redeemable at Walgreens to motivate patients to be engaged in their health care and remain adherent to their medications.

“Gamification” is the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts.

The Action Engine platform offers condition-related quizzes and surveys, daily health tips, leaderboards and competitions, daily medication prompts via email or SMS, monthly refill reminders and medication adherence scorecards to help patients engage with and learn more about their conditions.

The Walgreens program powered by HealthPrize will finish development later this month and will be presented to pharmaceutical sponsors as a way to support patient adherence for prescribed medications, according to a HealthPrize press release. It is planned to be offered to patients filling certain brand-name prescriptions for chronic conditions such as diabetes on Walgreens.com.

The concept of the gamification of healthcare has been gaining ground. According to an issue brief published by New York City-based The Commonwealth Fund, fewer than half of the more than 1,000 healthcare related-apps reviewed by researchers appeared to be useful for their potential for patient engagement while also offering high quality and safety. Researchers from the Commonwealth Fund recommended that the most engaged patients may benefit from peer support delivered through social media or ongoing motivation challenges delivered through gamification, such as using elements of game design, like competition or point scoring, to make activity more fun.

“We are continuing to innovate in digital health, enhancing our services and solutions to extend the basic care our pharmacists provide for our patients,” Greg Orr, Walgreens Boots Alliance senior director of digital health, said in a statement. “This platform gives us another opportunity to help improve patient adherence and outcomes, furthering our commitment to being a patient champion and partner of choice.”

The HIPAA-compliant program will also allow participating patients to track any of their other medications filled at Walgreens. It is planned to be ready for implementation with partners in the third quarter of 2016 for diabetes, with additional conditions such as GI, high cholesterol, depression, asthma and COPD, expected in market by the end of the year, according to the press release.

Medication nonadherence is a significant challenge for both the healthcare system and patients.  It is estimated to be the cause of $290 billion of otherwise avoidable cost to the U.S. healthcare system each year, including poor health outcomes.

“We are pleased to be able to offer the HealthPrize platform to select Walgreens patients through this collaboration,” Tom Kottler, HealthPrize CEO and co-founder, said in a statement. “This will also give healthcare brands an omni-channel approach to educating and motivating patients to take their medications and achieve improved health outcomes.”

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