App in development to help Indiana doctors fight opioid crisis

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana doctors and other medical professionals will soon be able to pull out their cellphones to find better practices for prescribing pain medication.

A $230,000 grant through the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation will allow medical leaders to create an app, and other learning tools, to provide education to help curb Indiana's opioid epidemic.

Staff at the Indiana State Medical Association, the largest physician organization in the state, is already working to design an app which is expected to launch in the next six months, said Dr. John McGoff, the president of the ISMA.

The app will offer opioid-prescribing courses to thousands of Indiana doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and registered nurses. Content will be developed by the Indiana Hospital Association, specialty societies and health systems. Learning materials will tailor to different medical specialty groups.

“Believe it or not, doctors are learning differently than in the past," said McGoff. "Normally, you would sit in a lecture hall for an hour about some new topic. Now, physicians are obtaining their education through apps, podcasts and webinars. That’s why this is such a perfect fit and timely because of the opioid crisis we’re experiencing here in Indiana.”

For the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, which focuses on improving the well-being of Indianapolis residents in education, tobacco and opioid addiction, and life sciences, the app was an idea easy to support.

“The opioid epidemic isn’t over," said the foundation's president and CEO, Claire Fiddian-Green. "The rates of overdose deaths continue to increase and opioids are the key driver to that.”

The initiative comes on the heels of state lawmakers increasing required amount of opioid-focused training doctors and prescribers get each year. Senate Bill 225 requires them to do at least two hours of training on opioid prescription practices every two years.

“There is an urgent need to get this information out," Fiddian-Green said. "Not only is there a new state law, but people are continuing to die from opioid misuse.”

The training is free for health providers through the end of 2018.