Kognito

Kognito is a healthcare simulation company that develops virtual simulation training scenarios that train providers to lead real-life conversations regarding social, emotional and physical health. Founded in 2003 and based in New York City, the company’s virtual humans conversation simulations provide an exciting new opportunity to effectively deliver behavioral change outcomes. Composed of a team of scientists, artists and technologists, Kognito works to improve patient-provider communication, collaborative care and health outcomes. The company strives to help health professionals, consumers and caregivers to lead meaningful real-life conversation through role-play simulations.

To achieve their goal, Kognito’s virtual reality simulations prompt users to engage in role-play conversations with virtual humans. The company uses the latest neuroscience, social cognition and game mechanics principles to create the conversations. During each simulated scenario, learners can practice and self-assess their ability to manage conversations as they relate to wellness.

Supported by a growing volume of research evidencing their effectiveness, the medical simulation company provides clients with access to a growing series of professional development and public education simulations on topics such as mental health, substance use, chronic disease, family relations, medication adherence and patient-provider communication. In addition, Kognito’ partners with clients to develop simulations tailored to their specific needs.


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To create such simulations, Kognito focuses on innovation through leveraging advances in science and technology to be at the forefront of digital health education. The company also uses creativity to push the boundaries of storytelling, interactive design and engineering to create highly-effective experiences.

Demonstrating integrity, Kognito remains committed to the highest standards of excellence in how the company builds products, conducts business and treats one another. Stewardship is further exhibited creating sustainable value for company stakeholders while maximizing growth, social impact and profitability. To meet customer-centric ideologies, Kognito emphasizes the importance of listening to, supporting, collaborating with, and retaining both customers and users.

About Kognito in Healthcare Education

Kognito believes in the power of conversation to inspire and inform, impact how people think and act, evoke empathy and change lives. These core values are what led the company to pioneer and study a new approach to build and assess the capacity of people to lead real-life conversations that result in measurable social, emotional and physical changes. Kognito envisions a world where all individuals and communities harness the power of conversation to change lives.


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This mission relies on the science of learning, the art of conversation and the power of game technology to engage users in role-play conversations with virtual humans. The education management solutions the company produces allow learners to try different approaches, get personalized feedback and gain the confidence and skills to lead similar conversations in real-life.

In October 2017, Kognito was acquired by Ascend Learning, a leading provider of educational content, software and analytics in healthcare. Ascend is owned by Blackstone Private Equity and The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.

Listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP), Kognito’s growing portfolio of research proven conversation simulations are licensed by over 500 leading health, education, nonprofit and government institutions.

Helping to spread the Kognito mission and the use of company simulators across educational environments, the company’s virtual reality simulators have been presented at a variety of medical simulation conferences, exhibitions and shows, such as those hosted by SimGHOSTS, INACSL, ASPiH, SESAM, and the International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSiH).

About Kognito Virtual Simulations

After over 10 years of design and development, virtual humans are now ideally suited to create safe, engaging, and non-confrontational experiences that promote meaningful and effective behavior change. The behavior change model of the Kognito conversation platform integrates several evidence-based models and techniques, game mechanics and learning principles.

According to Kognito, the virtual humans simulations are very “talented, and can speak any language, never age and their appearance and level of realism can be adjusted to meet the needs of various audiences. Furthermore, they can be coded to exhibit different personalities, medical or behavioral health conditions.

To increase engagement and effectiveness, Kognito places the virtual humans in a dynamic and life-like virtual environment. These fully customizable 3D environments can capture any setting (in-door/out-door), be adapted based on the learner’s profile and location, include items that can become part of the interaction (e.g., a medical device or a form) and offer product placement opportunities.

Click Here to Connect to Leading Healthcare Simulation Vendors Like Kognito

Unlike learning through video tutorials or in-person workshops, virtual humans allow for enhanced comfort and confidence when speaking and experimenting with different communication styles. The virtual simulations further provide a means for open feedback regarding a learner’s performance.

Key models and techniques employed during Kognito virtual reality simulations include motivational interviewing, shared decision-making, emotional self-regulation, empathy, empathic accuracy and reappraisal strategy. Key learning and assessment principles are also assigned, and include hands-on-practice, contextual learning, personalized feedback, storytelling and case-based approach.

From the beginning, Kognito has been conducting extensive research to analyze the effectiveness of these high-fidelity simulations. The company’s work has resulted in numerous tools provided to clients and research partners to help track and analyze the impact of the virtual humans simulations on knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors and health outcomes.

The tracking and analytics utilize a variety of data sets including users’ actual decisions/behavior in the high fidelity simulation as well as self-reported data. Additionally, an online data portal provides clients and research partners with access to real-time usage tracking, a series of dashboards and analytics to gain insights into behavior change and direct access to the actual data for analysis.

Kognito uses a multi-disciplinary development model to create simulations. Development cycles range from one to six months—from minor customizations to fully-tailored simulations. The company uses a portfolio of proprietary tools and processes that enable the efficient production of its simulations for deployment across multiple digital platforms.

Kognito Virtual Humans Simulations Examples

The 30 virtual human simulations scenarios available currently target markets including PK-12, higher education, healthcare, government and non-profit. Simulation topics range range from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to bullying prevention, chronic disease, LGBTQ, mental health, military families and veterans, patient-provider communication, substance use, suicide prevention, trauma-informed teaching, sexual misconduct prevention.

During each simulation, learners enter a virtual environment and engage in role-play conversations with emotionally-responsive virtual humans. Through this practice and after receiving personalized feedback, learners are able to better assess their competency to lead similar conversations in real life.

For example, during Kognito’s “Artificial Perfection” simulation, virtual humans are used to talk with teens about performance-enhancing substances. The interactive role-play simulation prepares pediatric professionals to talk effectively with young patients about appearance and performance-enhancing substances, as well as screen and conduct brief interventions using motivational interviewing techniques.

Alternatively, within the company’s “Trauma-informed Policing with Tribal Youth” virtual simulation, an interactive role-play is used for law enforcement professionals to build knowledge about the effects of historical and intergenerational trauma on tribal youth. This simulation prepares officers to lead more effective real-life interactions with tribal youth.

Another virtual humans simulation scenario involves at-risk college and university students. This Kognito suite of products is designed to educate faculty, staff and learners on mental health and suicide prevention topics. These topics work to support improved academic performance, student retention and campus safety.

Other virtual human simulation resources specifically focus on building relationships, developing respect, prompting lifestyle changes and coping with loss. Overall, Kognito’s virtual simulations can help train learners to have more empathetic and impactful conversations.

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