Telemedicine in education: bridging the gap.
BACKGROUND: The increasing cost and inequitable access to quality healthcare, coupled with the merger of the information technology and health service sectors, has given rise to the modern field of telemedicine. Telemedicine, meaning medicine at a distance, allows us to transcend geographic and socioeconomic boundaries to deliver high quality care to remote and/or in-need patients. As technology becomes more affordable and a physician shortage looms, telemedicine is gaining attention as a possible solution to healthcare delivery. Simultaneously, telemedicine holds great promise with regard to medical education. Several studies integrating telemedicine in medical education have shown positive outcomes, demonstrating similar or greater efficacy compared with traditional educational methods with high student-reported enthusiasm. Other domestic and international telemedicine projects, largely spearheaded by universities, have also achieved great success.
DISCUSSION: In a novel approach, by pairing medical schools with in-need partner communities, utilizing similar faculty resources as traditional learning methods with standardized patients, students can gain valuable experience and skills while serving actual patients. This progressive approach to medical education fosters collaboration, communication, longitudinal care and teaches students needed skills for their future practices as 21 st Century healthcare providers.
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