JHU-UMB Collaboration Develops Program to Simplify Resident Assessment Process
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons-in-training spend six years in residency and learn a wealth of skills within that time: hand surgery, cleft lip and palate surgery, aesthetic surgery, burn care, nerve repair, breast reconstruction and more.
A resident’s operative experience with patients, not simulated models, can be difficult to document and assess. But a team of clinicians and educators from the Johns Hopkins Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the University of Maryland School of Medicine Department of Surgery’s Division of Plastic Surgery—which together share a residency training program—is working to revolutionize the documentation and assessment process.
Team members have developed MileMarker, an easy-to-use, Web-based software program in which residents can document every operative experience they have and attending physicians can assess and document their residents’ skills and progress.
With MileMarker, “now we have a tool to use in the operating room to document operative performance based on common procedural technology,” says Carisa Cooney, clinical research manager for the Johns Hopkins Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
MileMarker’s online tracking function lets residents take charge of their experience. “They can use the dashboard to determine the areas in which they need more training and then ask surgeons working in those areas to accommodate them,” Cooney says. Future applications for the technology include enabling hospital staff members—and perhaps even patients—to see how competent a resident is in performing a given skill.
MileMarker also includes an Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Milestones assessment section, in which a plastic surgery residency program’s Clinical Competency Committee can store and track the semiannual Milestone assessments of residents required by the ACGME.
Cooney and her team worked with the two institutions’ software engineering teams—the Johns Hopkins Technology Innovation Center and the Maryland Research in Informatics and Analytics Development Laboratory—to develop the software behind MileMarker. They received a starter grant from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Excellence in Education and a Maryland Innovation Initiative Phase I grant. In September, they began a pilot test at several plastic and reconstructive surgery divisions nationwide, enrolling training programs that have expressed interest in MileMarker.
The involvement of innovators from various departments at both The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, makes MileMarker a unique Baltimore invention that has the power to transform the residency experience of plastic surgeons-in-training across the country.
“We’re making sure the program works not only for our institutions,” Cooney explains, “but also for other programs across the country.” Following the free pilot test, the inventors plan to offer a subscription plan to institutions based on user numbers.
Ultimately, pooling anonymous information from departments at different schools will enable attending physicians to determine if residents are learning and performing on par with residents of their discipline at other institutions, Cooney says.
Cooney and her team are working with the Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures office to form a startup. They’ve joined the university’s FastForward innovation hub and have copyrighted their work, and they’re in the process of registering their intellectual property.
Cooney’s co-inventors for MileMarker are Johns Hopkins plastic and reconstructive surgeon Damon Cooney; Scott Lifchez, director of the Hand Surgery Service at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center; and Richard Redett, director of pediatric plastic surgery at Johns Hopkins.