An Interprofessional Telehealth Course for Health Educators and Health Professional Students
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, health professional programs revolved quickly to virtually deliver sound pedagogy for students’ learning and clinical practice. Simultaneously, many healthcare institutions shifted from in person care to the practice of telehealth without prior training of providers. To address the need for clinical education in the delivery of interprofessional telehealth patient centered care, the Michigan Area Health Education Center leadership developed an online course for health educators and health professional students from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work. The aim of this course is to equip participants with knowledge, skills, and best practices required for effective interprofessional delivery of telehealth care.
This course consisted of three components: 1) self-paced online learning modules covering interprofessional team-based care, telehealth best practices, motivational interviewing, social determinants of health, and COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing; 2) an online telehealth certification program; and 3) a simulated standardized patient (SP) encounter focusing on interprofessional telehealth care delivery for a patient diagnosed with COVID-19. Outcomes were assessed using 1) reflections and quizzes, 2) the Gap Kalamazoo Communication Skills Assessment tool, and 3) pre- and post-course surveys assessing interprofessional telehealth knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and skills.
Data was collected from 10 faculty and 32 students across 4 disciplines. Pre and post-course survey results improved from: 64.28 to 100% on clarity in respective role within an interprofessional team; from 92.85 to 100% on participants’ ability to effectively communicate information through telehealth; from 78.57 to 100% on participants’ preparedness to perform effectively on an interprofessional team conducting a telehealth patient assessment; and from 30.95 to 93.75% on understanding regulatory policies when billing for telehealth services. All participants agreed that the SP encounter improved their clinical skills and that telehealth will be a part of their future practice. Participants ranked the simulated activity as the most valuable component of the course. They reported that this course will help them apply/improve telehealth in their clinical practice site (40.5%), advocate for interprofessional collaborative telehealth care (32.4%), and enhance telehealth curriculum content (27%). Identified areas of improvement include course content expansion related to financial and regulatory procedures.
An online telehealth course is effective in preparing faculty and students for interprofessional telehealth care.
This pandemic created an opportunity to disseminate best practices of interprofessional telehealth care through an online course. Having educators and students learn together in interprofessional teams created a rich dialogue for curriculum development.