SickKids Pain Squad App Uses Gamification To Maintain Patients’ Interest

January 20, 2014 Ben Myers

Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) asks its cancer patients to record their level of pain twice daily. They used to hand over a pad and paper, and the results were disappointing — only 11% of patients completed the task regularly.

Developers and communications agency Cundari were tasked with increasing that number, and the Pain Squad app they developed has been a resounding success, increasing compliance rates for pain journals to over 90%.

The more-consistent data collected by the app is more useful to the hospital for tracking their patient, and the patients don’t have to fumble with pen and paper

In a press release, Cundari noted the key to the success of their app:

To motivate children to complete their pain report, the project tapped into their inherent love of playing video games. This helped to shape not only the mechanism and usability of the app but also the styling and even the name of the app. By embracing gaming, the app found a way to take a previously tedious task and make it fun and even empowering.

The app uses the principles of gamification in order to reward the patients with levels such as Rookie, Officer, Detective and Lieutenant to encourage consistent daily use.

On top of these great UI and engagement principles, actors from some of Canada’s top police-themed TV shows were recruited to deliver messages of encouragement as the patient levels up.

For their efforts, developers and communications agency Cundari won 28th annual MAA Worldwide GLOBE Awards ‘Best of the Best’ in the World for the app and related campaign.

Cundari also had a hit with their Zombie-themed campaign for the Heart & Stroke Foundation, collecting more than 1.4 million views on Youtube.


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