A new video game designed at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, utilizing technology from the FBI to teach staff about interrogation, is now in its initial stages of use. The intention behind the development of the interactive game is to train doctors to identify the behavior of individuals with a high likelihood of engaging in prescription drug abuse. The video was developed using a combination of software designed by Dale E. Olsen, an engineer from Johns Hopkins University, and research from Dr. Michael F. Fleming from Northwestern University. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Small Business Administration provided a $1 million grant to create the game.
Now completed, the web-based interactive video game will cost those who use it $50 for an hour and is intended to be used for approximately 10 sessions of roughly 20 minutes each, in order for users to gain the necessary information targeted by the game. The patient is the voice of an actor with nearly 2,000 statements that range in tone and intensity. The doctors choose from roughly 1,500 questions, and the computer generates the patient’s answer. Depending on what the patient says, the doctor must decide their response from a list provided to them.
The video technology, now in its final stages of testing, is targeted specifically to the primary care family physician. These doctors, oftentimes, feel that they are not qualified to accurately assess if a patient is abusing drugs and so they err on the side of always treating their pain. No one can blame the doctors since this was not standard training in any medical school in the past, and refusing medication, especially to an addict, is a tough conversation to have, to say the least. Doctors have been known to feel a physical threat from these types of patients.
How does a video game teach doctors to spot patients who may be dependent or addicted? There is no blood test that confirms addiction, just tests that identify the presence of the prescription – and not the amount ingested. So doctors are forced to learn the many subtle non-verbal cues that may tip off the physician that someone is not being truthful. These include:
Do you think a video game is enough to train doctors to stop writing prescriptions to individuals likely to abuse painkillers? Let us know your opinion below.