Game-Based Learning Helps Big Pharma Get Ahead

Remember high school chemistry class? Perhaps you’ve blocked most of it out of your memory, but there’s one visual you likely remember: the periodic table of elements.

It remains vivid in my memory, thanks to the unforgettable song, “The Elements,” penned in 1959 by the musical humorist Tom Lehrer. Set to Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” I was taught about some of the great elements such as antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and rhenium.

Today, science still requires an engaging approach to education. This is especially true in the healthcare industry, where the stakes are high.

Here, I explore how games are spurring engagement levels (and yielding results) in the healthcare industry.

Sales Representatives

Pharmaceutical sales reps are responsible for persuading doctors to prescribe their company’s products. Due to the stiff competition in the market, reps have a limited amount of time to ensure doctors adopt their company’s drug over competitors’. From understanding anatomy and learning the product, to communicating its value, pharmaceutical salespeople undergo comprehensive training throughout their career to up their sales game.

E-learning is a primary component of most sales training. Increasingly, companies use games to make their training more fun and effective.

For example, Bayer Pharmaceuticals created Rep Race: The Battle for Office Supremacy, a simulation game to help train its salesforce on the latest and greatest marketing initiatives for Betaseron, a multiple sclerosis product. Rep Race focuses on selling and objection-handling scenarios, effectively breathing new life into the sale. The game provides sales reps with more entertainment than the multiple-choice skills tests that it replaces. It also provides real-time feedback for the trainer and trainee throughout the training process.

Bayer reps report liking the game, and according to Bayer, some have played the game as many as 30 times, a level of engagement that far surpasses what we see with traditional training. The game measures reps’ individual and collective performance and after one year of being in use, Bayer saw a 20% increase in the sales team’s effectiveness among those who played it.


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