Remote supervision of medical training via videoconference in northern Australia: a qualitative study of the perspectives of supervisors and trainees.

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Publication Date: 
Mar 21, 2015

OBJECTIVES: Telemedicine has revolutionised the ability to provide care to patients, relieve professional isolation and provide guidance and supervision to junior medical officers in rural areas. This study evaluated the Townsville teleoncology supervision model for the training of junior medical officers in rural areas of North Queensland, Australia. Specifically, the perspectives of junior and senior medical officers were explored to identify recommendations for future implementation.

DESIGN: A qualitative approach incorporating observation and semistructured interviews was used to collect data. Interviews were uploaded into NVivo 10 data management software. Template analysis enabled themes to be tested and developed through consensus between researchers.

SETTING: One tertiary level and four secondary level healthcare centres in rural and regional Queensland, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS: 10 junior medical officers (Interns, Registrars) and 10 senior medical officers (Senior Medical Officers, Consultants) who participated in the Townsville teleoncology model of remote supervision via videoconference (TTMRS) were included in the study.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Perspectives on the telemedicine experience, technology, engagement, professional support, satisfaction and limitations were examined. Perspectives on topics raised by participants were also examined as the interviews progressed.

RESULTS: Four major themes with several subthemes emerged from the data: learning environment, beginning the learning relationship, stimulus for learning and practicalities of remote supervision via videoconference. While some themes were consistent with the current literature, new themes like increased professional edge, recognising non-verbal cues and physical examination challenges were identified.

CONCLUSIONS: Remote supervision via videoconference provides readily available guidance to trainees supporting their delivery of appropriate care to patients. However, resources required for upskilling, training in the use of supervision via videoconference, administration issues and nursing support, as well as physical barriers to examinations, must be addressed to enable more efficient implementation.