‘Interactive conversation co.’ puts fun in patient education

CHICAGO — At first glance, there doesn’t seem a natural connection between the CD-ROM version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” and health education. But one company’s smashing success with interactive games led to its venture into prevention and disease management.


The company is Jellyvision, founded in 1989 as Learn Television to create children’s films. After producing “The Mind’s Treasure Chest,” an award-winning educational film, Learn developed the interactive, best-selling trivia game “You Don’t Know Jack,” released in 1995. The following year, the company changed its name to Jellyvision to reflect its broader focus beyond education, and launched a spinoff, Jellyvision Labs. Its mission: to create interactive programs online “to communicate complex subjects.”


The result is a growing series of Web-based, interactive programs about a variety of topics, including such products and services as pharmaceuticals and health coverage options. What sets the interactive dialogues apart is that they’re conversational, funny and entertaining, as patients and virtual hosts walk them through a question-and-response process. 


Dialogue is crafted by writers, including screenplay writers and even comedians, who are “well versed at communicating” and “subject-matter agnostic,” explained Josh Braun, Jellyvision’s VP business development.


Those writers, he said, are paired with subject matter experts, “but the experts don’t do the writing, which is why the conversations don’t sound like a marketing brochure; they sound like a human.”


Such drug companies as Bayer and such insurers as Aetna “have experienced much success from implementing interactive conversations via Jellyvision,” noted a representative. For instance, she explained, for a patient who finds out she has multiple sclerosis, “the interactive conversation walks [her] through the differences between treatment, breaking down … complicated information into a short conversation that’s easy to understand and reassuring. [The patient] now feels relieved because she has a grasp on her diagnosis and how to handle it.”


Pharma companies, Braun said, “drive brand conversations” via Jellyvision. “Educating people about diseases and possible treatment options hopefully drives them to visit their doctors and mention the medication,” he said.


Drug manufacturers also can apply Jellyvision’s interactive approach to doctors. “It’s difficult for sales reps to see physicians nowadays,” Braun told Drug Store News. “So interactive conversations can be used as a learning device for physicians. Then, when the sales reps go in and visit, the physician is a little more ‘warmed up’ and better educated.”


With a company like Aetna, he added, it’s about educating plan members about their benefits and providing decision support.


There’s no reason a pharmacy chain couldn’t use the same approach, Braun said, by participating in patient education activities or other brand-building actions.