Columbus, OH. Here’s a fantastic little case study of our Let’s Play trend in action (see Digital Trend #6). HealthPrize is an adherence app that leverages gaming dynamics to keep users engaged. And it’s working. A recent pilot study showed that they were able to raise adherence by 54%.

For an industry that counts significant movement in adherence as a few percentage points, 54 is a big number. HealthPrize CEO Tom Kottler says, “We are clearly not just getting the adherent to be very adherent or the good to be great, but we’re moving the bar for people much further down the scale as well. So that’s pretty critical.”

HealthPrize is certainly not the first adherence app out there. And they’re not the first to gamify it. So, what are they doing differently?


Real prizes: Patients can earn Starbucks and Amazon gift cards, cookbooks and donations to their favorite charities, among other prizes, which pharmaceutical companies pay for, when they respond to the app’s daily text or email asking if they’ve taken their dose.

Actual data: Instead of relying on self-reported data, the app tracks whether patients actually refill prescriptions. They’re also partnering with injectable device companies to track alerts from the device to the smartphone that are sent when the patient injects a drug.

Adding education: Recognizing that adherence is not simply a forgetfulness issue, they’ve incorporated ongoing patient education about the disease state and the importance of continuing treatment.

“The act of nonadherence is an intentional act,” Kottler added. “It’s not that people forget, it’s that they go off therapy. We like to say you can’t remind someone to take a medication they’ve chosen not to purchase. So we come at the problem from a very different perspective. This really is a problem of human psychology instead of just ‘Gee, I forgot’ or ‘I don’t want to pay for it.’”

So, where did the co-founders get this insight into human psychology? Casinos! As part of their research, they studied dynamics of gaming and gambling. What better way to find out what keeps people coming back?

By acknowledging the complexities of adherence, HealthPrize developed a truly useful tool. And by understanding the human element, they’re motivating people to use it.


About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.