Medicine and Gaming: The Surprising Link You (Probably) Don't Know About

The worlds of medicine and gaming aren't as far apart as you might think.

Feb 4, 2014 at 4:18PM

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that consumers play games to be entertained. Whether it's on a console, mobile device, or laptop, games are meant to be fun, interactive, and challenging. It's as simple as that.

Or is it?

You may be surprised to find that gaming also has applications in the world of medicine. For instance, drugmakers Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) are developing games that serve as educational tools for patients, and also help with patient compliance.

To shed more light on this emerging trend, I recently spoke with Michael Fergusson, CEO of Ayogo Health, at the mHealth Summit near Washington, D.C. In the following interview, Michael explains how games can be used by drugmakers to produce better outcomes for patients. Michael also discusses two new games his company helped create for Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY).

The other tech revolution you need to watch today ...
There are few things that Bill Gates fears. Cloud computing is one of them. It's a radical shift in technology that has early investors getting filthy rich, and we want you to join them. That's why we are highlighting three companies that could make investors like you rich. You've likely only heard of one of them, so be sure to click here to watch this shocking video presentation!

Michael Fergusson: Ayogo builds patient-facing applications that use game-play mechanics and social patterning effects to improve patient engagement.

Max Macaluso: So, is this an emerging trend right now in health care, or has this been around for a while?

Fergusson: Well, it's kind of a new thing to effectively apply game mechanics to health-care applications. You know, games and play are an ancient human behavior, so it's something that human beings have always done. And health care has typically done a bad job of developing applications that human beings use.

Macaluso: So, can you tell us a little bit about your business model and who your clients are?

Fergusson: Sure. We work with a variety of customers-payers, providers, and pharmaceutical companies-to help deploy applications that will improve patient adherence. So, some of our customers in the pharma space, for example, are Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY). We work with Boehringer Ingelheim, as well, and other companies like that.

Macaluso: Can you talk a little bit about the project you did with Merck?

Fergusson: Sure. We're very excited about this particular project. So, we work with the innovation group at Merck (NYSE:MRK), fabulous people to work with. Our application, that we're piloting right now, is called "Type 2 Travelers." It's for newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics, to help them complete a roughly 90 day program of education and behavior change to help them manage their disease more effectively, using a combination of narrative, progressive mastery, in terms of game mechanics, as well as social engagement between patients.

Macaluso: And for Sanofi (NYSE:SNY), what was the project there?

Fergusson: Well, Sanofi we're working with mostly in Europe, building an application designed to help newly diagnosed children who have type 1 diabetes engage with their regime of testing their blood sugar and reporting it. Because, as you may know, it's a very challenging disease to manage for a small child. They have to prick their finger, have to take their blood, and there's a lot of fear about amputations and, you know, it's very frightening for a child. So we're building an application that's a little bit more playful, a little bit more fun, to help them get more engaged, get a sense of satisfaction, and feel some mastery over their new condition.

Max Macaluso, Ph.D., and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers