Medical EducationBRIEF REPORT

The pandemic silver lining: preparing osteopathic learners to address healthcare needs using telehealth

Jennifer Taylor, DHEd, MPH; Amanda Wright, DO; and Michael Summers, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: June 10, 2021

Accepted: August 24, 2021

Published: October 21, 2021

  • Jennifer Taylor, DHEd, MPH, 

    Department of Family Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

  • Amanda Wright, DO, 

    Department of Family Medicine, Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

  • Michael Summers, MD, 

    Department of Family Medicine, Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Abstract

Context: During the COVID-19 pandemic, many clinicians quickly adapted their way of practicing patient care by offering telehealth and virtual office visits while simultaneously having to minimize direct patient care. The shift in direct clinical learning opportunities provided to third- and fourth-year medical students required a shift in the educational curriculum to develop learner skills around the appropriate use of telehealth in patient care.

Objectives: The aim of this project was to provide exposure to students so they could learn the telemedicine equipment and best practices, and how to identify infectious diseases to improve access to care and meet the needs of the patient.

Methods: In July and August of 2020, the Indiana Area Health Education Centers Program partnered with Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MUCOM) to support a 1 day telehealth simulation (online curriculum, group lecture, and two standardized patient encounters) into their clerkship curriculum. We utilized a retrospective pretest-posttest to assess changes in learner knowledge around telehealth after the program. At the conclusion of the telehealth training program, students were asked to complete a retrospective pretest-posttest assessing their level of preparedness to utilize telehealth equipment, their preparedness to demonstrate “telehealth best practices” in a manner consistent with protecting patient (and data) privacy, their confidence to utilize telehealth for identification of infectious diseases, and their confidence to utilize telehealth to identify proper treatment plans.

Results: A total of 96 learners completed the program in 2020. Posttest results demonstrate a statistically significant (p<0.05) improvement for learners’ self-reported level of preparedness to utilize telehealth equipment, their preparedness to demonstrate “telehealth best practices” in a manner consistent with protecting patient (and data) privacy, their confidence to utilize telehealth for identification of infectious diseases, and their confidence to utilize telehealth to identify proper treatment plans.

Conclusions: Our telehealth curriculum involving a video, interactive learning session, and two standardized patient experiences provided osteopathic medical learners with realistic simulated case scenarios to work through in effort to improve their knowledge and self-efficacy around the utilization of telehealth in practice.

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