New App Designed to Help Doctors and Patients Discuss Quit-Smoking Resources

Screen shot of the app called Learn, Connect and Quit

UW-CTRI Associate Director of Research Dr. Megan Piper and UW-CTRI Outreach Specialist Amy Skora are developing a new app called Learn, Connect, and Quit (LCQ) to increase conversations between patients who smoke and their healthcare providers about smoking-cessation resources.

Medical assistants will give patients a tablet with the app to use while waiting for the doctor. The LCQ app has 14 videos on it about smoking and several action steps from which the patient can choose, including that they would like to talk to their doctor about quitting.

“It really fits into clinical workflow,” said Skora.

This app offers 14 videos with quit-smoking advice. To watch this one, Craving Survival Kit, click here. 
This app offers 14 videos with quit-smoking advice. To watch this video, Craving Survival Kit, click here.

This is an up and coming way to utilize technology to “hopefully boost engagement with (patients) talking to their provider about different treatment options or their smoking in general,” she said.

Piper and Skora worked with videographer Clint Thayer of Focal Flame Photography to produce six original videos on the LCQ app. The other 8 videos are from the Centers for Disease Control’s Tips From Former Smokers Campaign.

Focus groups of smokers watched three of the original videos and gave feedback. The feedback was then used during the development of three other videos created for the app, Skora said.

The videos range from 30 seconds to a few minutes long and cover a broad range of topics such as smoking and diabetes, cessation medications, creating a quit plan, utilizing the Wisconsin Quit Line, and depression.

When the patient is done watching videos (e.g., when the doctor comes into the exam room), the app presents action options to the patient. The action options include the following:

  • Talk to the provider about smoking (can include quitting or cutting down).
  • Get a Quit Line referral.
  • Get a referral to a Group Health Cooperative tobacco outreach specialist.
  • Let the provider know which videos the patient watched.

Providers routinely ask their patients if they smoke, and document their answer. But, many don’t take action beyond that to address treatments and resources after confirming their patient is a smoker, said Skora.

“The app can help assist in prompting the delivery of cessation treatments as a standard of care for every patient that smokes because the patients are asking for it directly,” she said.

The app gives providers a guide on exactly what to discuss with patients. For example, if a patient shares that they watched a video on smoking and diabetes, the provider has new insight into patient concerns and can start a discussion on a topic that may not have come up otherwise.

The patients can also choose to be sent a link to watch more of the videos later.

“Instead of just having a brochure about quitting smoking for patients to read, the LCQ app is designed to be an innovative way to engage smokers to consider different evidence-based treatment options and generate conversations between patients and providers,” said Skora.

In June, UW-CTRI staff will provide tablets with the app to a clinic within Group Health Cooperative, a health system in South Central Wisconsin.

The pilot study is funded by a R35 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Piper and Skora will train the medical assistants and doctors to navigate the app and to present it to patients waiting for the doctor.

The app will provide Piper and Skora with data, including how long patients spend using the app, which videos patients watched, how many smokers were given the tablet, and which action steps were chosen by smokers after using the app.

Skora and Piper plan to get 100 patients who smoke to use the app during this pilot study.

Within the action steps, there will also be an option for patients to receive a financial incentive to give feedback on the LCQ app.

In addition, the study team will interview the healthcare providers about the efficiency and effectiveness of the app.

“I’m excited to hear patient and provider feedback. We are hoping this will be a successful way to get more information to smokers and ultimately help them make changes to their smoking using evidence-based treatment,” Skora said.