Using a Mobile Application for Evaluation of Procedural Learning in Neurosurgery

World Neurosurg. 2020 Jun:138:e124-e150. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2020.02.049. Epub 2020 Feb 18.


Background: Feedback is a major component of any educational process. Competency assessment and feedback are essential tools for teaching surgical skills. Most current systems of assessment within neurosurgical residency programs use evaluations aggregated over a period of time, which lead to significant bias, rather than case-specific feedback. We describe the use of a mobile device application called SIMPL (System for Improving and Measuring Procedural Learning) to allow for immediate surgical competency assessment and improve the quality of feedback after every operative experience.

Methods: We retrospectively assessed our use of this program and neurosurgery residents' response to the program. Institutional review board approval was not required, and no patients were involved in the study. This application has already been implemented within general surgery programs with promising results. We document its implementation in a neurosurgery program and the output of the program for residents and program directors.

Results: This is the first documentation of such an application within a neurosurgical residency program. In a 6-month period at a single institution, around 300 evaluations were completed by residents and faculty, with a >80% response rate within both groups. Furthermore, these evaluations were companied by a 60% dictation rate from faculty, which contains verbal feedback that is available to residents for playback at any time.

Conclusions: The telephone-based SIMPL application allows for assessment of surgical competency and remains quick and easy to use, giving it the potential to improve individual neurosurgical training experiences across the United States.

Keywords: Mobile phone application; Operative assessment; Procedural learning evaluation; Resident assessment; Surgical competency; Surgical training.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Neurosurgery / education*
  • United States