Digital Medicine

REVIEW ARTICLE
Year
: 2020  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 67--70

Encouraging the use of mobile technology for the effective delivery of medical education and clinical training


Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava1, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava2,  
1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District - 603108, Tamil Nadu
India

Abstract

Considering the extensive use of mobile devices by medical teachers, undergraduate students, postgraduate residents, and patients, it becomes an indispensable need to deploy mobile technologies in various areas of the health professions education, medical training, and patient care. The purpose of the current review is to explore the scope and utility of mobile technology in ensuring the effective delivery of medical education and clinical teaching. An extensive search of all materials related to the topic was carried out in the PubMed search engine and a total of 15 articles were selected based on their suitability with the current review objectives and analyzed. The use of mobile technologies creates a gamut of educational experiences and learning opportunities for medical students and thereby enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of the learning process. The adoption of mobile technology in medical training is more of a student-centered approach and ensures active engagement of the students with an ultimate goal to become a competent health-care professional. In conclusion, in the best interest of the medical students, it is high time to employ mobile-based applications and technologies in the period of medical training as it is expected to play an important role in the accomplishment of learning outcomes and patient care.



How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Encouraging the use of mobile technology for the effective delivery of medical education and clinical training.Digit Med 2020;6:67-70


How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Encouraging the use of mobile technology for the effective delivery of medical education and clinical training. Digit Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Dec 9 ];6:67-70
Available from: http://www.digitmedicine.com/text.asp?2020/6/2/67/330762


Full Text



 Introduction



Mobile phones have been extensively used in different domains of the general population and it is quite essential for all of us to explore the opportunity in the field of medicine.[1] In fact, considering the profound use of mobile devices by medical teachers, undergraduate students, postgraduate residents, and patients, it becomes an indispensable need to deploy mobile technologies in various areas of the health professions education, medical training, and patient care.[2] The use of mobile technologies creates a gamut of educational experiences and learning opportunities for medical students and thereby enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of the learning process.[1],[2] The purpose of the current review is to explore the scope and utility of mobile technology in ensuring the effective delivery of medical education and clinical teaching.

 Methods



An extensive search of all materials related to the topic was carried out in the PubMed search engine. Relevant research articles focusing on the use of mobile applications in the delivery of medical education published in the period 2010–2021 were included in the review. A total of 18 studies similar to current study objectives were identified initially, of which three were excluded due to the unavailability of the complete version of the articles. Overall, 15 articles were selected based on their suitability with the current review objectives and analyzed. Keywords used in the search include coaching and medical education in the title alone only (namely mobile technology [ti] AND medical education [ti]; COVID-19 [ti] AND medical education [ti]; COVID-19 [ti] AND telemedicine [ti]; and medical education [ti]). Only the articles published in the English language were enrolled in the study. The collected information is presented under the following subheadings, namely Mobile applications and Medical Education, COVID-19 pandemic and Mobile applications, Utility of mobile applications, Lessons from the field, Implications for practice, Potential challenges and recommended strategies, and Implications for research.

Mobile applications and Medical Education

The adoption of mobile technology in medical training is more of a student-centered approach and ensures active engagement of the students with an ultimate goal to become a competent health-care professional.[2] We cannot deny that owing to the ready accessibility to Internet in different geographical areas, patients and their relatives are more directly involved in their health concerns, and thus, it becomes the responsibility of the medical administrators and teachers to train them to deal with such kinds of patients.[1],[2]

In fact, patients have been using simple apps (namely body mass index calculator, calories burnt, and pharmacy locators) and it is absolutely correct for them to be more aware of their health concerns. Keeping this in mind, the medical teachers and students also have to be more familiar with basic mobile applications, so that they can guide patients regarding the selection and use of apps that will definitely improve the quality of care.[2],[3]

Coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic and mobile applications

Moreover, the ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has compelled the policymakers to close educational institutions, including medical schools, and thus, the mode of learning has shifted to online learning.[4],[5],[6] As a matter of fact, after the initial setback of some days, gradually all the medical institutions started with the delivery of online lectures using different applications employing either synchronous or asynchronous or hybrid forms and employment of interactive technologies (namely mobile applications to study anatomy using three-dimensional computer models or live streaming of elective surgeries) as a substitute to the face-to-face or conventional learning methods.[4],[5] Assessment in these testing times was a difficult challenge considering that all three learning domains have to be assessed; nevertheless, different approaches were used to assess them. These assessments ranged from online open book examinations, multiple choice questions, proctored assessments, and practical examinations.[4],[5],[6]

However, the best results can be obtained only when we target higher learning domains so that students can relate it to the practical relevance, especially when they are not interacting with patients in authentic settings.[5],[6] Further, during this ongoing pandemic, telemedicine has also attracted significant attention and its application has been reported not only in patient care but also in the delivery of medical education through virtual ward rounds or video conference calls or virtual objective structured clinical examinations.[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12] In addition, the use of virtual reality has also shown a significant rise, especially in the domain of training on practical/clinical skills and the assessment of the same.[6]

Utility of mobile applications

As already mentioned, mobile applications have found immense applications in the delivery of medical education and facilitation of clinical training.[8],[9],[10],[11] Considering the fact that not every medical student might have access to laptop or a personal computer, the use of mobile-based applications makes it extremely useful and practical for the students to continue their education. The existing and newly developed (credit to COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in a major technological revolution) mobile applications have made the process of teaching, learning, and assessment relatively feasible and effective.[7],[11],[12]

In addition, the mobile apps can help the students to plan their reading schedule in a calendar, use reminders or memos for the same, scan notes or spotters, improve their clinical reasoning skills, and thus be eventually benefited.[3],[13] The advantage of these apps is that clinical care can be offered without compromising the confidentiality of the patients.[3] We must note that the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology went one step ahead and designed a new mobile application for the virtual recruitment of the candidates in the fellowship program run by the department.[14] The feedback obtained from the potential candidates who appeared for the virtual interview was encouraging.[14]

Lessons from the field

At Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, a constituent unit of the Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, a Deemed-to-be University, Puducherry, multiple initiatives have been taken to promote seamless integration of mobile-based applications in the teaching–learning and assessment process. These interventions include the implementation of the learning management system (LMS) for the students from all professional years, which has opened ways for the students to hybrid (synchronous plus asynchronous) learning, as we cannot expect that all the medical students are present for online sessions on all days regardless of their personal or environmental issues. This also envisages encouragement of adult learning principles. The students get an access to not only the learning resource materials but can even track their learning progression through their performance in assessments.

In addition, the Department of Community Medicine has trained undergraduate medical students from different professional years with regard to Epicollect app – a mobile-based application.[15] This app has been utilized for performing field surveys, data collection, and for obtaining feedback from the students about clinical postings and other academic sessions. The trained students have found the application quite interesting and it has significantly helped in the inculcation of research skills (namely data collection) among the medical students.[15]

Implications for practice

The successful implementation of mobile-based applications essentially requires that the needs of both the students and the medical curriculum are effectively met and it has to be in alignment with the settings wherein they will be used.[3] Further, the faculty members should also be sensitized about the various mobile-based applications that can be used by the students and this requirement can be fulfilled by the active involvement of the Medical Education Unit of the institution. Moreover, it is also quite essential to orient students and teachers about the use of communication apps such as WhatsApp to empower them to effectively deal with patients, especially the younger patients.[2],[3],[4]

Potential challenges and recommended strategies

There are no doubts that the adoption of mobile-based applications has played a remarkable role in the delivery of medical education, but we have to devise strategies to overcome the existing challenges. The availability of high-speed Internet and the cost involved (in cases of virtual reality), especially in low- and middle-income nations, has emerged as the major challenges. The best approach to deal with these challenges is by ensuring implementation of a LMS in the institution. A well-functional LMS enables the students to learn at their pace in their times of convenience and is also effective in monitoring the learning progression among medical students.

Implications for research

The use of mobile-based applications in the field of medical education is still novel in different parts of the world. There is an immense need to get insights into the effectiveness of mobile-based apps in the augmentation of learning. In addition, we can even plan for the conduct of studies that can aid in the identification of the potential facilitating and hindering factors. Moreover, the utility of these applications can be further enhanced by employing them in the conduct of research surveys in both community and institutional settings.

 Conclusion



In the best interest of the medical students, it is high time to employ mobile-based applications and technologies in the period of medical training as it is expected to play an important role in the accomplishment of learning outcomes and patient care.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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