Just-in-time learning seeks to improve quality of care in radiology

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Integrating learning into the setting where knowledge is used is the premise behind “just-in-time” learning, according to Charles Kahn Jr, MD, MS, of the Medical College of Wisconsin who presented at the annual R &D Symposium at the annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM, formerly SCAR) this week in Austin, Texas.
   
Since traditional approaches to continuing medical education (CMR) has had little or no impact on the quality of medical care, a new body of educational theory has emerged that supports “situated learning” in which the learning is integrated into the setting in which the knowledge is used. IT enables the imbedding of such learning in RIS and PACS.
   
Just-in-time learning for radiology means providing brief educational modules targeted to the imaging procedure being evaluated, body part or parts of interest and the radiologist’s educational needs, preferences and level of experience, Kahn pointed out. Kahn is the lead investigator of an ongoing project, funded in part by SCAR, into this type of learning for radiologists.
   
Kahn and his team created a system with a presentation component that displays educational modules and elicits the user’s responses to the modules’ self-assessment questions. The system allows users to select learning modules based on the clinical context, such as the imaging procedure being viewed.
   
The program is based on 74 articles from the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) through a license from the American Roentgen Ray Society. The topics chosen relate to imaging of the chest and abdomen. They put together the textual content, figures, tables and references from the articles – creating and applying a set of automated tools to enter the data into a MySQL database. From the articles, they created 36 learning modules with learning objectives and multiple choice tests. Once completed, an immediate response to the test questions is shown with explanations of right and wrong answers.
   
The tests scored well with the physicians taking them – with the majority giving them high usability scores. Some 88 percent said the learning modules were relevant to the case, while 94 percent said they were of optimal length.
   
Kahn sees the imbedding of education into clinical practice as a positive move toward better clinical outcomes. “This is just the beginning,” he said, “just-in-time learning will have a substantial impact on education in radiology.”