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Date Updated: November 13, 2016

NBME Centennial Prize Winner

Dr. Lewis First and Team TOPCATS (Myung Sun Choi, Jennifer Hu, Abby Koff and Devan Patel)

NBME Centennial Prize Winner

The NBME is pleased to announce the winner of its Centennial Prize for innovation in the future assessment of health professionals: a team of medical students from the University of Pittsburgh whose proposal, TOPCATS (Trainee-Oriented Patient Communication Assessment System), uses phone app technology to provide crucial patient feedback to medical students and their medical schools.

The TOPCATS team, made up of third-year students Myung Sun Choi and Jennifer Hu, and first-year students Abby Koff and Devan Patel, receive $5,000 in cash, a pledge that the NBME will include the concept in its new product development, and an invitation to participate in the development process as NBME's Centennial Fellows. The next steps will be several years of major investment by the NBME to development a prototype, conduct audience testing, analyze effectiveness, and if the concept succeeds in all phases, roll out a new tool that will help medical students become better prepared for real life doctor/patient interactions.

The NBME sponsored the competition as part of its centennial celebration, an opportunity to look back at the impact 100 years of assessment has had on patient safety in the United States, and to look forward to new ways of assessing the skills necessary to be a safe, knowledgeable, compassionate physician. Entries, submitted by medical professionals, academicians, and business leaders from across the country, were evaluated on:

  • The extent to which the idea addressed a need for health professionals in the future
  • The potential impact on assessment of health professionals
  • The feasibility of the idea developing into a viable, useful product
  • The effectiveness and engagement level of the finalist presentation

TOPCATS is a smartphone app-based tool that allows students and patients to evaluate their encounters in real time. Both the med student and the patient they served will receive a survey which asks them to reflect on objective skills (Did the student wash her hands? Did he introduce himself?) and more subjective skills (Did they listen to the patient? Were they empathetic?). After a few patient responses, the student will receive feedback through the app in an anonymous, randomized set of response data. Data on how the cohort of students is doing as a whole can also be sent to the medical school, so administrators can observe trends in teaching areas that may need to be strengthened.

"We were tremendously impressed by the creativity and thoughtfulness of all the submissions we received," comments NBME president Dr. Donald Melnick. "TOPCATS represents everything we hoped for when we put the call out for next-generation assessment ideas that would move our discipline forward. The fact that the winning team, chosen by a panel of judges along with the NBME members, staff, and volunteers, is a student team, who have applied their first-hand experience to a concept that will improve their education, makes us even prouder. It’s a good sign for our continuing pledge to protect public safety through the high-quality assessment of health professionals."

Congratulations Team TOPCATS!


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