The Efficacy of Continuing Education Technology for Public Health Physicians Practicing in Remote Areas

The Efficacy of Continuing Education Technology for Public Health Physicians Practicing in Remote Areas

Gregory C. Petty (University of Tennessee, USA) and Deborah H. Joyner (East Tennessee State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-068-2.ch033
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Abstract

This chapter is an investigation to determine the receptivity of family physicians to new technologies of continuing learning. Family physicians that were active members of the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) served as the research group for this study. A response rate of 55% was achieved. Most responding family physicians perceived that Continuing Medical Education (CME) activities affect their practice of medicine. This study revealed that physicians thought the CME activity must be relevant, applicable, and the content and quality important to the learner for participation by distance education. Computer usage via the Internet, CD ROM, and email are being used more frequently and have a higher degree of receptivity by public health physicians than non-computer generated modalities. It is recommended that specialized marketing efforts, online Web-based courses, CD ROMs, and other modes of distance education delivery could change the level of interest in using distance education as a viable option for CME.
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Background

In today’s managed care environment, family physicians and primary providers are the backbone of an ideal health care system (AAFP, 1998). Unfortunately, the availability of primary care providers has remained problematic, particularly in rural areas. Only small numbers of physicians selected rural practice and the retention of those choosing a rural community became a challenge due to the draw of the urban environment. Rural physicians face professional isolation and the number of rural hospitals also has declined compounding the shortage of health professionals (Puskin, 1992). Gruppen, Wolf, Van Voorhees, and Stross’s (1987) indicated that primary care physicians use colleagues and “educationally influential” physicians in the community as resources as for sources of information.

Distance education has long brought the latest information directly into the physician’s setting. For more than 25 years, telecommunications technologies including interactive video, telemedicine, and computers have been promising tools that have helped address the CME needs of these physicians (Barow, 1993; Manning & Petit, 1987).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Innovation: An idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other social unit for adoption (Rogers, 1995).

CD ROM: Acronym for compact disc read-only memory, an optical storage system for computers that allows vast amounts of data, text, and images to be stored and retrieved off a compact disc” (National University of Continuing Education Association, 1994, p. 61).

CME: Continuing Medical Education is the process that provides information and activities designed to maintain and improve the ability of the family physician to provide quality patient care (AAFP, 2000).

Computer Conferencing: A telecommunications system that makes use of a computer as a platform for processing information.

Diffusion: Communication of an innovation, through certain channels and over time, among the members of a social system (Evans, 1982).

Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA): Areas designated by the Office of Shortage Designation, Public Health Service, and U.S. Department of Human Services. The designation signifies a shortage of health personnel for primary care. Factors include high poverty rates, high infant mortality rates, underserved Medicaid population, and a physician to patient ratio of greater than 1:3,500.

Adoption: The decision to make full use of an innovation as the best course of action.

Distance Education: The linking of learners and learning resources separated by time and or distance (Dillion, 1996).

Audioconferencing: Interactive audio communications between individuals or groups at three or more locations.

Interactive Video: Visual images and audio transmitted to multiple sites for real time interaction.

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