Article Abstract

Implementing the mobile continuing medical education (mCME) project in Vietnam: making it work and sharing lessons learned

Authors: Rachael Bonawitz, Liat Bird, Ngoc Bao Le, Viet Ha Nguyen, Nafisa Halim, Anna Larson Williams, Lora Sabin, Christopher J. Gill


Background: Mobile technology is a novel approach for delivering continuing medical education (CME), with numerous advantages including lower costs and the ability to reach larger numbers than traditional in-person CME workshops.
Methods: From May 2015 to May 2017, we conducted two randomized controlled trials in a phased approach to evaluate the effectiveness of a mobile CME (mCME) approach for two cadres of health professionals in Vietnam. The first randomized controlled trial (RCT) tested the use of an SMS-based educational intervention among Community-Based Physician’s Assistants; while feasible and acceptable, this intervention failed to improve medical knowledge among participants. Given the failure of the first RCT, and drawing on qualitative work conducted with participants at the conclusion of the trial, various modifications were employed in the second RCT conducted among HIV specialist physicians in Vietnam. Version 2.0 of the mCME intervention did lead to significant improvement in medical knowledge among intervention participants. Here, we discuss in detail the development of an mCME platform and the experiential “lessons learned” during two phases of implementation.
Results: Numerous lessons were learned during implementation, including the importance of: (I) mixed methods approaches; (II) an underlying theoretical framework for behavior change projects; (III) expertise in software programming; (IV) aligning educational content to a well-defined participant population; and (V) engaging and motivating adult learners. We also discuss the critical importance of projects with local ownership and investment that are relevant to local problems.
Conclusions: mHealth approaches for continued healthcare training and education is increasingly relevant in many low-resource settings, the lessons learned here will be valuable to other organizations looking to scale-up similar mHealth-type educational programmes.