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App puts CDC opioid guideline at your fingertips

Posted by Denise M. Reagan on May 26, 2017 12:02 PM

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wanted tools to make its Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain easier to implement and understand, Brunet-García created a variety of materials. One of the more innovative tools is a mobile app created for Apple and Android devices.

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The app features a Morphine Milligram Equivalent (MME) calculator, quick tips and key points of the Guideline, motivational interviewing techniques, and a list of resources and glossary terms. As of the first week of May, 12,201 users have downloaded the app.

“We held a lot of discovery with the CDC about what they wanted to achieve with the app in order to make it integrated with the Guideline and useful and practical for health care providers,” said Anna Jaffee, senior account manager.

Brunet-García created wireframes to show functionality and then working prototypes with storyboards to detail the look of each screen. The team then built out the app, conducted user testing with providers, and launched it through the Apple and Android stores.

“This application uses our experience in web design and development to implement a native-looking and functioning cross-platform application,” Senior Developer Mike Haefeli said. “This allowed us to create and test the application more efficiently to keep costs down.”

The app is intended for healthcare providers, especially primary care providers, who account for approximately 50 percent of the prescription opioids dispensed.

“We had to consider how the prescribers would utilize the application and understand what options they would need to properly use the features, including the dose calculator” Haefeli said.

Although other MME calculators exist on the market, this one ties the MME calculations to the corresponding Guideline recommendations based on the dosage amount. That way, a provider can see, in real time, what the total daily dosage is and be directed to considerations and risks.

“It’s very relevant and actionable,” said Bruce Cooke, user experience designer and developer. “After making a calculation, they can learn more in the Guideline to help explain the risk level and what they can do about it.”

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The application needed to be available offline with appropriate permission and security settings and user data privacy considerations. It also would be used on a range of devices, such as phone and tablet, as well as old and new versions of the operating systems.

“My hope is that they will be able to use it as a convenient reference when considering prescribing opioids,” Cooke said. “All the information providers need about the Guideline is a quick tap away.”

Another feature of the app is the motivational interviewing feature, a patient-centered approach shown to elicit behavior change. This section of the app takes prescribers through a sample provider-patient dialogue about tapering opioids in hopes of prompting them to use this approach with their patients.

“It required a lot of thinking around the most logical flow that would take a provider through a real-life scenario with a patient,” Jaffee said.

Creating this app has helped Brunet-García understand the needs of public health-focused clients. The steps taken to develop this app will be repeated and refined for the next.

“Much of what we’ve learned for making the application accessible will apply to many future projects.” Haefeli said.