It often starts in the doctor’s office or the emergency room. A patient has broken their leg and will be in pain for weeks. Another patient has had back surgery and is on their way home, but it will take time before they’re fully recovered. A third patient has returned for a consult about the constant pain that keeps them awake at night.
All of these patients could be prescribed opioids. But as the addiction crisis rages on, healthcare professionals have become wary of doling out addictive painkillers. Research has shown that the slippery slope of addiction often begins with a perfectly legal prescription.
That leaves doctors and nurses in a tricky position – they have patients in pain, but they harbor deep concerns about contributing to a problem that kills 91 people every day. Talking to patients about healthy ways to manage their pain, or convincing them that opioids aren’t the way to go, can be uncomfortable.
That’s where practice makes perfect, according to Cyrille Adam, the senior director for health programs at Kognito. The company has created virtual characters that help prepare healthcare professionals, teachers and others to have difficult conversations about addiction and substance abuse.