Walmart leverages VR, remote training to fight opioid abuse

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A discount giant is preventing opioid overdoses and misuse with digital information.

Walmart has implemented a multi-faceted strategy to train employees, first responders, and members of the public about opioid safety. The retailer has created a virtual reality (VR) tool for training first responders to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose. 

The VR tool puts users into a real-life setting where they see how an overdose affects a victim and then enables them to walk through the steps of properly responding and administering the life-saving opioid overdose-reversal medication Naloxone. Walmart is partnering with Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and other prevention-focused organizations to host community training sessions using the VR tool across the country later in 2020.

In addition, Walmart supports the EVERFI Prescription Drug Safety digital program, designed to help high school students continue developing knowledge and skills to equip them to make healthy, informed decisions. A total of 13,000 students in Oklahoma, Indiana, Texas, Colorado, Illinois and Arkansas are on track to complete the program remotely by the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Walmart is also providing an independent educational grant to the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) to offer every pharmacist and pharmacy technician across the country free, comprehensive online opioid education. The curriculum was originally developed in 2018 for Walmart pharmacists as mandatory professional development and is expanding to non-Walmart pharmacists and technicians nationwide, starting in May 2020.

Other steps the retailer is taking to improve opioid safety include installing medication disposal kiosks inside up to 1,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacy locations across the country before the end of 2020. 

Walmart has already been leveraging VR solutions to ensure employees are ready for the challenges of customer service. Employees view virtual reality videos filmed in actual Walmart stores that recreate a wide variety of real-life events they will likely encounter during their shifts. Walmart also recently started leveraging Oculus Go VR headsets to evaluate candidates for internal promotion.