Distance Education in Telemedicine and M-Health Initiatives in Therapeutic Patient Education

Distance Education in Telemedicine and M-Health Initiatives in Therapeutic Patient Education

Sean Rueter (University of Maryland – Baltimore County, USA) and Zane L. Berge (University of Maryland – Baltimore County, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9978-6.ch041

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Patient education is a critical component of 21st century health care. On a policy level, initiatives such as the United States government’s Healthy People 2000, 2010 and 2020 programs encourage all citizens to participate in health promotion and disease prevention, regardless of whether they are health care professionals, patients being treated for a condition or disease, or individuals who consider themselves in perfect health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). Practically, patients’ participation in health care assessments has been associated with improved outcomes. Involvement in treatment decisions increases patient motivation, adherence and satisfaction (Dreeben, 2009). Individuals’ ability to contribute to the conversation about their treatment is increased by their own knowledge of and comfort with discussing their condition or just the state of their health.

The increased role that the internet plays in our lives, and the prevalence of mobile technology in society, has increased the viability of distance education in general, and the health care industry is seeking to apply distance learning methodology and technology to the challenge of providing improved patient education. There has long been a recognition that patient care extended beyond the hospital or doctor’s office, and while the health care industry is notoriously slow in adopting and integrating information technologies (due to a variety of factors, but most understandably concerns about the privacy and security of patient data), efforts to include computing and communication advancements into the field date back decades (White, Krousel-Wood & Mather, 2001). The Institute of Medicine, for instance, introduced the term “telemedicine” in 1996, defining it as the “use of electronic information and communication technologies to provide and support health care when distance separates the participants” (White et al., 2001, p. 22). In tandem with an integration of communication technology to the field, health care should also be utilizing the knowledge and experience of education and instructional design professionals to their efforts at patient education. This paper will analyze where past programs have achieved their goals or struggled as evidence that the best practices of distance education being employed in other industries are also key to success in health and medicine. It will also provide three recent examples of telemedicine and mHealth applications that are applying the lessons learned from previous efforts and examine their prospects for success based on current research in educational design.

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