In just seven months, an ISMA initiative to educate medical professionals about opioid prescribing and addiction through innovative technology engaged more than one-third of Indiana physicians licensed to prescribe controlled substances. The results have garnered praise from government officials working to improve Hoosiers’ health.
From April through October, 35% of physicians in Indiana who hold a Controlled Substances Registration (CSR) engaged with ISMA’s continuing medical education (CME) on opioid topics using ISMA’s mobile app or webinars. More than 4,000 physicians downloaded the app, an ISMA staff analysis showed.
Fairbanks Foundation grant
The mobile app and free CME content debuted in April, thanks to a $230,000 grant from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation (RMFF), which supports projects to improve health outcomes.
“We are encouraged to see such strong engagement by physicians with the ISMA app,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the RMFF. “Despite the recent decline in opioid-related overdose deaths, there is still significant work to be done to address Indiana’s opioid epidemic – especially when it comes to prevention. “We hope the ISMA app will continue to provide physicians and other prescribers with practical knowledge about safe opioid prescribing practices and non-opioid pain management alternatives.”
State law created mandate
ISMA’s plans to create accessible medical education on opioid best practices grew out of its commitment to curbing addiction and overdoses in Indiana. In summer 2017, the organization shared with representatives of RMFF its vision of using innovative technology to bring expert opioid education to physicians too busy to attend in-person training. The grant award, announced in April 2018, became even more timely when Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Senate Enrolled Act 225 into law a few months later. The measure requires anyone seeking to obtain or renew a CSR to have completed two hours of CME on opioid prescribing and abuse in the previous two years. From April through October of this year, 13,326 CME credit hours earned through the ISMA Online mobile app had been awarded.
ISMA President Lisa Hatcher, MD, a family medicine and obstetrics practitioner in Columbia City, used the ISMA mobile app and video courses to earn the credits required to renew her CSR by the Oct. 31 deadline. “Meeting the new opioid CME requirement was not only easy, but the information was meaningful,” she said. “I could pick a topic and listen to the presentation and, if I got interrupted, pause it and come back at a later time to finish up.”
Accolades for app, CME
Indiana stakeholders in reducing opioid addiction and abuse lauded ISMA’s proactive approach to educating physicians about these topics. Jim McClelland, Indiana’s executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement, said, “ISMA’s efforts, along with those of many others across Indiana, exemplify the all-hands-on-deck response Governor Holcomb has called for to reduce the incidence of substance use disorders, save lives and help strengthen communities across our state.”
Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Indianapolis) chairs the House Public Health Committee. “Through this app, medical professionals can easily stay up to date on best practices concerning prescription opioids,” she said. “As policymakers and health care providers work together to tackle opioid abuse, it is critical that Hoosiers with legitimate needs can still access their prescriptions, while those who abuse the drug are blocked. It is encouraging to see so many using this app to learn more about opioid abuse and help fight addiction.”
Darren Covington, JD, director of the Indiana Medical Licensing Board (MLB), said MLB members are grateful that ISMA’s opioid education has made meeting the new CME mandate easier. “We appreciate this partnership, along with others, to make this requirement as accessible and seamless as possible,” he said.
Jennifer Sullivan, MD, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, commended ISMA on the results. “Evidence-based opiate prescribing is key for Hoosier doctors, as is medication-assisted treatment in our efforts to address the opioid crisis,” she said. “We are pleased more Indiana physicians are becoming engaged in both prevention and recovery.”
New CME courses planned
ISMA plans to make other CME offerings available through the mobile app, including new video courses on opioid prescribing and addiction. More information will be shared with ISMA members and others as soon as it becomes available.