The New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is providing an interactive, role-playing game to primary care physicians in the city to help them better identify and treat people suffering from traumatic illnesses. It is expediting this initiative because of the impact of Hurricane Sandy.
Kognito Interactive is the behavioral health gaming technology company that developed the tool. Jennifer Spiegler, the vice president for strategic partnerships at Kognito, told MedCity News at the mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. that it would be provided to as many as 8,000 primary care physicians.
Its Human Interactive Game Engine is based on research in social cognition and neuroscience. Used in settings ranging from healthcare, the military, K-12 and college classes, role-playing exercises range from assessing a war veteran for post traumatic stress disorder with back pain and a woman with arthritis who also has depression. It also has a simulator to help faculty identify and refer students showing signs of mental distress.
Spiegler says one aim of the company is to reduce the stigma associated with behavioral health disorders and to increase empathy by healthcare professionals for their patients.
Its role-playing exercises create multiple scenarios. A role-playing exercise featuring a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prompts users to make a choice about the types of questions they ask and the order they ask them. They can also see and hear how the patient responds and literally read their thoughts in a thought bubble. The program aimed at primary care providers provides role-playing scenarios for the four most common trauma-related diseases: sexual assault, substance abuse, depression and PTSD.
Spiegler said the platform has been shown to be effective with getting people to adhere to treatment recommendations.