Vanderbilt creates app to teach docs opioid best practices

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has developed a smartphone app to help educate providers on the proper use of opioids.

The approach offers a daily quiz for clinicians that poses a problem on the proper utilization of opioid and non-opioid therapies in managing patients’ pain.

The app, called QuizTime, sends a daily question to clinicians via text or email. In response, they submit their answers and receive immediate feedback.

Vanderbilt executives say the quiz-based approach enables educational content to be disseminated at a scale that traditional face-to-face classroom-based education cannot similarly engage learners. For instance, a recent QuizTime learning module simultaneously reached almost 1,200 users at VUMC.

The Nashville-based healthcare provider has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Health in an effort to offer QuizTime to healthcare professionals across the state. The initiative is funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Opioid Prevention in States-Surge Support, a one-year project designed to advance understanding of the opioid overdose epidemic and scale up prevention activities across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Vanderbilt will be a key collaborator for the state of Tennessee,” says Matt McEvoy, MD, principal investigator of the project and professor of anesthesiology at VUMC. “We plan to engage with multiple organizations across the state to disseminate opioid-related education via QuizTime to any professional willing to participate.”

“When it comes to opioid prescribing, you can put alerts into the electronic health record that pop up recommending non-opioid therapies,” McEvoy says. “That might condition people to take certain actions, but they may not know why.”

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Vanderbilt Medical Center Campus photos, summer 2014 ( Daniel Dubois / Vanderbilt University)

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McEvoy contends that the goal of QuizTime is to “drive education” to clinicians in the form of small, daily doses and to give them the opportunity to learn through the app during a time of their choosing that is most convenient for their busy schedules.

“This method works and is based on several learning theories,” he adds. “Instead of having people attend a traditional didactic lecture setting, we take that same amount of content and space it out over time in a smaller package, with daily educational notifications in which they answer a question, learn the right answer, as well as read the rationale as to why that’s the right answer. As a result, they are more likely to actually learn and retain that information for a longer period of time.”

McEvoy notes that the QuizTime app is “content agnostic” and can be used to provide workplace-based education for healthcare professionals on myriad subject matters, not just opioids.

“That’s learning at scale that was just previously not possible,” he concludes.

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