Health IT

Playing doctor-patient to improve patient experience, starting with antibiotics

One goal of the simulation platform, developed by Kognito, is to improve the quality of interactions between patients and physicians.

Kognito-RWJF role play antibiotics pat

A collaboration between Kognito and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation culminated in the launch of the website Conversations for Health, dedicated to  simulated interactions between doctors and patients, and parents and their kids. Users can take on the role of a primary care physician or a patient in a simulated conversation designed to reduce the prescription of antibiotics and chip away at the larger problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The website also has simulation exercises geared to helping parents talk with and read to their children.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation owns the website, but it is part of a wider effort by Kognito to take on some of the challenging conversations primary care physicians are increasingly expected to have with patients, such as identifying behavioral health problems, weight management, substance abuse, and helping them manage chronic conditions. The hope is that it will be adopted by medical student and resident programs to improve their rapport with patients and the patient experience.

Lori Melichar, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a news release that she hoped the conversation simulations would contribute to the foundation’s efforts to build a “Culture of Health” in the U.S.

“By making them broadly available, we want to learn if virtual conversations can support better communication to improve the quality of our health care and help parents raise healthy children,” Melichar said.

Such experiments also indicate how primary care is undergoing transformation.

“The pressure on primary care is producing a lot of changes to the role of primary care physicians,” said Lois Drapin, a Kognito senior vice president in a phone interview.

CEO Ron Goldman, who was also on the call, said the goal of its simulations is to address the question of how physicians can talk with patients about behavioral health, antibiotics, adherence, and other topics, so it is clear and motivating.

“How can we impart this complex information in a 10-12 minute timeframe?  [The simulations] won’t solve everything, but they will help inform the power of conversation to drive change,” he said.

Goldman also noted that Kognito had received interest in applying its simulation platform to helping physicians recommend digital health apps to patients and helping them understand how to use increasingly complex medical devices.

A pilot study of the antibiotic program included 35 primary care physicians from four healthcare facilities affiliated with New York University Langone Medical Center: Bellevue Hospital, Gouverneur Health, Veterans Affairs NY Harbor Healthcare System’s New York Campus, and the NYU Faculty Group Practice.

Thirty-five patients from New York City Health+Hospital Bellevue Ambulatory Care Practice also took part in the study.

The study found that “65 percent of providers indicated that it helped them have a conversation with patients about antibiotics.”

Ninety-seven percent of patients “rated it as a very useful tool saying that it would help them to: be better prepared for a doctor’s appointment, increase assertiveness when communicating with their physician, create a treatment plan, and learn specific content about antibiotics,” according to the study.

Kognito has also been used to help primary care physicians identify signs of post traumatic stress disorder in veterans as well as those who endured Hurricane Sandy.

Image Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation