Effectiveness of the Telehealth Training Approach Compared with Face to Face Training for Rural General Practitioners
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
Globally there is a shortage in supply of rural health professionals. Tele-health was developed to help reduce distance barriers for health professionals in geographically isolated locations seeking continued medical education (CME). E-health includes all health information and health care delivered electronically. Further, telehealth defines all telecommunication technology used to transfer health information and health care. Tele-health comes in a variety of forms including videoconferencing. The use of videoconferencing to deliver medical education for rural health professionals is expanding area for health education. Videoconferencing provides a flexible method for rural GP registrars to access CME without travel. However, there is limited knowledge surrounding the use and success of telehealth for medical education. Each new telehealth project requires evaluation in order to ensure effectiveness of future programs.
This study was based on one General Practice Education Year One (GPEP-1) registrar training program trialling videoconferencing as a method of teaching rurally distant registrars. A qualitative health research thematic analysis was undertaken. All individuals involved in the study were included in this research including; three offsite registrars (who teleconferenced as they lived remotely from the seminars), three onsite registrars (who attended the face to face seminars), and three facilitators. Three focus group interviews were conducted to collect data, one for each respective group. The focus groups accounted for the participant’s individual and collective experience of teleconferencing. Seven main themes emerged from the focus groups including; group culture, facilitation, teleconferenced education, technology, personal priorities, travel, and rural/remote. These themes were further sorted into two groups; reasons for switching to teleconferencing and factors that determine the success or failure of a telehealth CME. The factors that influenced the offsite registrars reasons to switch to teleconferencing included; personal priorities, travel, and rural/ remote. Further, the other four themes determined the success or failure of the teleconferenced training including; group culture, facilitation, teleconferenced education, and technology. All seven themes were relevant for the offsite registrars and onsite registrars, however, for the facilitators only the factors that determined the success of teleconferencing were applicable.
Overall, the pilot study there was no difference in the educational experience provided. This study outlined the key factors that are required for effective teleconferenced training including; face to face bonding prior to teleconferencing, a skilled facilitator that provides active facilitation, a well organised structure, good quality technology, and regular checkups with the learners teleconferencing to ensure satisfaction. Additional research is required to replicate this study to compare this teleconferenced training with further teleconferenced training.