Proceducate app is mobile textbook for procedures

By Rosie Lombardi

Jeremy RezmovitzMobile technology is offering medical learners novel ways to learn medical procedures at their own pace. Proceducate is a free new app that allows learners and teachers to review animated videos showing step-by-step instructions for conducting biopsies, joint injections and other minor medical procedures. “Residents can watch it as many times as they need in order to feel confident they can go and do these procedures. It’s like a mobile textbook,” say Proceducate’s co-developers, Drs. Jeremy Rezmovitz (pictured) and Ian MacPhee, both staff physicians and lecturers at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre in Toronto.

The app is intended to compliment formal classroom teaching, says Rezmovitz. “We want to flip the classroom and get residents exposure to these validated procedures so they can get more exposure to them before they’re in clinics. We’re switching to a more competency-based curriculum where residents may eventually have to demonstrate competency before they’re able to get out there to do these procedures.”

He says the animations are based on real-world best practices. “Animators came to the clinic, videotaped the procedures, and then developed animations based on that. Combined with the content that we gave them and the research we did on these procedures, we developed step by step instructions for doing them.”

The app was beta-tested for more than two years before it was released in November 2015. “Right now, Proceducate has about nine minor procedures in family medicine, primarily biopsies and joint injections. We’ve got incisional and excisional biopsies, and injections for shoulders, knees and other joints.”

Rezmovitz says developing the app is part of a strategy within the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine to develop an e-learning platform. “I won the Louise Nasmith Award last year to address a change related topic, and e-learning was the platform that I chose. We also received some grant money for a total of about $30,000 to hire developers and a research assistant.”

Rezmovitz and MacPhee are taking steps to evolve the platform into a more complex app, and there are plans to refine the app based on feedback from users. “The research question we’re exploring is, how do users integrate a mobile application for minor procedures into their curriculum? We’re asking users to fill out the feedback channels as well as engaging Google Analytics in the background so we get a sense of who’s downloading it, when they’re using it and who is watching what.”

There are plans to offer more videos covering anesthesiology and gynecology. “I’ve spoken to the people in Anesthesia at Sunnybrook and they’re interested in developing the modules for their own residents. We’re also trying to develop a gynecological component for procedures like pap smears and endometrial biopsies. Bayer even donated a video for IUD insertion and is letting us use it for free.”

Many medical schools have been developing local apps for different specialties, and Rezmovitz feels these could be collected in one app so they’re not all recreating the wheel. “I feel like there’s a whole collaboration that we can do here. I’ve spoken to the people in the Faculty of Medicine, and they realize that we should have a repository for all these videos. Why should we work twice? We’ve been working in silos for too long.”

Proceducate could become the door that opens universities to more collaboration on this score. “It’s ridiculous. It costs a lot of money to develop these procedural videos properly and then to fund their upkeep because they need to be upgraded every six months. It takes a lot of money, so why not pool resources, and try to develop cross departmental strategies for e-learning?”

Download the free app at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/proceducate-app/id1052045886?mt=8

Check out a Proceducate video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GetDLl62Bl0

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