Serious Games? Bayer’s DIDGET diabetes meter appeals to adult patients too

When it comes to supporting patient care in a relevant and engaging way through digital technologies, there is a huge amount of potential yet to be exploited. Last year we wrote about ‘serious games’ for health, and Creation Healthcare’s Susi O’Neill outlined how technology can be used to make healthcare fun.

Serious games can provide a refreshing change for patients with long term diseases when it comes to their treatment, which could be especially effective in treating children with chronic diseases. That’s the thinking behind Bayer’s DIDGET™, a blood glucose meter designed for children with diabetes. As Sandra Peterson, Head of Bayer Medical Care explains:

“Up until now, blood glucose monitors have been created with adults in mind. This product was inspired by a parent of a child with diabetes, to directly address the challenges facing kids with diabetes and their parents. Bayer’s DIDGET meter offers play with purpose to encourage kids to regularly monitor their blood glucose and begin to view regular testing as fun.”

Connecting with games systems

The DIDGET™ system connects directly to Nintendo™ DS and DS Lite gaming systems, awarding points for good testing habits. After testing, children can transfer points to their Nintendo™ games devices and redeem them for new characters, costumes or mini-games.

John Gregory, Professor in Paediatric Endocrinology at Wales School of Medicine, Cardiff University explains why this is important:

“One of the biggest challenges facing parents of children with diabetes is the constant struggle to instil the habit of regular blood glucose testing…”

“Bayer’s DIDGET meter can help ease the parent/child tension that testing often creates by adding an element of fun and rewards to the routine. Because it is designed with children in mind, Bayer’s DIDGET meter can transform a child’s blood glucose testing experience from something they have to do into something they want to do.”

Initially available only in the UK and Ireland, DIDGET was launched in Vienna at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) last September and is expected to be available in the US, Croatia and Slovenia shortly. In the US, the FDA (the US regulator) cleared the product last December.

What patients are saying

The launch of DIDGET in the UK has generated much industry and media interest, and a great many blog and social media posts mentioning the product. We carried out some simple research into social media conversations about the product, and found most of them to be from observers in technology companies and industry observers.

What we really wanted to know was what diabetes patients using the product thought of it. Naturally, with the product aimed at children aged between 5 and 14, we didn’t expect to find a highly active community of UK bloggers amongst target users. We did, however, find discussions amongst parents of children with diabetes based outside the UK expressing disappointment at not being able to obtain the product in their markets.

Amongst UK social media activity, it was interesting to learn that the product is not only being used by children. Analysing social media conversations amongst UK diabetes patients, we found comments such as this one, from a 23-year old diabetes patient living in England:

“The other meter I’ve been using at work for a few month now is the Bayer Didget. This meter is similar to the contour (uses same sticks) and I like it as you have the option to mark each test with a pre-meal, post-meal and small book marker on the system. Tests are quick (5secs) and don’t need much blood, so I prefer it to most others.”

The same user also comments on the game:

“The didget works with the Nintendo DS, it comes with a game and the tester can be plugged in the DS and good test results will reward players. The game is average, but I reckon it’d be good for getting kids to control their levels.”

An interesting observation from these comments is that it is the tester’s ease of use that appeals to the adult user of the product. Perhaps there’s a lesson here for medical equipment manufacturers: design for children, and adults will appreciate your products too.

If you would like to know what patients in your territories are saying about your products or therapy areas, ask about Creation Healthcare’s ‘Discovery’ service that provides healthcare companies with up-to-the-minute patient insights to shape healthcare engagement strategy implementation.

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