J&J launches 'quantified self' app to game patients into better behavior

Courtesy of Wellness & Prevention

There are plenty of mobile apps out there that translate our health activities into numbers. Using apps and other hardware, patients these days are tracking how--and how much--they sleep, eat and walk. But how can pharma capitalize on this "quantified self" phenomenon? Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has a few ideas.

The company's Wellness & Prevention unit has launched its new Track Your Health, a "gamified" app meant to be the mother of all health trackers. With Track Your Health, patients can feed in data from all of their other apps, as well as manually input activity they've tracked themselves. And presto--patients get a view of their health efforts that's "holistic and simplified," said W&P Strategic Product Manager Tyler Steben.

The app's not for everyone; only patients enrolled in health plans signed up for Wellness & Prevention's other products will have access to this one. But for those patients, the app's streamlined interface, motivational structure and game-like qualities will help cue behavioral changes they can make with Track Your Health and other W&P products, J&J hopes.

W&P Strategic Product Manager Tyler Steben

"Really, what makes games engaging for consumers is the underlying psychology that they harness," Steben told FiercePharmaMarketing. "We really paid attention to motivational design."

No surprise there. J&J is ahead of the curve when it comes to design, recently becoming the first pharma company to recruit a chief design officer. It already has a lineup of successful apps, including the free 7-Minute Workout--which racked up more than 550,000 downloads during its first four months on the market--and Care4Today, a medication adherence tool that can send alerts to family members when patients don't keep up with their treatment regimens.

Other pharma companies have not been so quick to jump on design as a marketing principle--but they may want to try to catch up. As J&J's group chair Sandra Peterson recently told The Wall Street Journal, "Design has a huge benefit on the marketing side, if it's done well."

But that's easier said than done, IDEA Pharma CEO Mike Rea said in March. It's an ongoing effort that involves continually learning about users and helping a product or service evolve accordingly. "There's a risk that they keep looking for something to bolt on, rather than fundamentally change their thinking," he said.

- read the release (PDF)
- learn more about the app from J&J
- get more from MobiHealthNews

Special Reports: 20 Big Pharma and biotech mobile apps - 2013 - Janssen's Care4Today | The top 10 pharma companies in social media - Johnson & Johnson | Top 10 pharma companies by 2013 revenue - J&J