Continued access to healthcare education with virtual technology

Saheed Rashid, Managing Director of BXTAccelyon, explores how innovative technology, in particular e-learning, has allowed care and medical education to continue with relative normality during challenging times.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for many industries all over the world, particularly those in the healthcare sector. With restricted access to patients, cancelled or delayed elective procedures, and measures to work from home implemented, healthcare has been unable to continue as normal for months, a situation that looks set to continue for months to come. 

Adapting to these challenges while addressing the backlog in the diagnosis and treatment of certain conditions, such as prostate cancer, requires the quick and effective application of digital technologies, including remote monitoring, telehealth systems and collaboration tools. 

The evolution of medical e-learning

One area which has advanced through technology is medical education, which continues to rapidly adapt to the changing healthcare environment, as well as clinician demands and expectations. Our modern healthcare system requires a modern training and education system alongside it. 

E-learning has accelerated over the years, and now more than ever, it is crucial to continuing training and education in healthcare during Covid-19. By facilitating an active, learner-centred, collaborative approach, teaching has become more personalised, allowing the user to access their educational resources online when it is convenient to them. In addition, it provides the NHS with the additional skills needed to tackle current backlogs. 

This approach has been proven to work in many instances. Research has found that trainees prefer technology-associated modalities that offer interactive and reputable learning material coupled with relevant feedback. 

Online learning for prostate diagnostics

One example of this is the MRI PRO, distributed by BXTAccelyon. This is an online self-learning tool for prostate MRI diagnostics, designed and developed by an international team of specialist MRI radiologists and urologists. 

This subscription-based e-learning platform allows healthcare professionals and trainees to test themselves on 300 of the highest-quality, histology-verified prostate MRI cases, and get instant expert feedback on how they did, including access to the actual biopsy report. Additionally, the platform provides users with performance over time, with a percentage score of correct answers for the last 20 and 50 cases reviewed.

Offering this personalised and flexible approach to learning enables healthcare professionals to gain the experience required for accurate interpretation and reporting of MRI scans. This is now recognised as an important step in the accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer. 

There is an unmet demand for education and training in MRI imaging and interpretation by all healthcare professionals, including in nurse, junior doctor, urologist and radiologist training. 

Managing the constraints of medical e-learning

The main risks and constraints of some e-learning platforms are rooted in incorrect or inaccurate interpretation of images. In order for digital education to be of most value, collaboration between experts and their students is key. 

This risk is mitigated by having experts available to discuss the interpretation of the scans and answering any questions the user may have. Ensuring that help is available when needed will get the most value from the platform.

Digital technology also comes with the risks of data protection and confidentiality. With the appropriate security precautions and education in place, threats can be minimised. Issues of patient confidentiality with online learning platforms can be eliminated by ensuring that the MRI scans used in training are both anonymised and non-specific to any clinician’s hospital. 

As an added security element, such tools should be password-protected on a user basis, so they are programmed and accessible to the individual only. 

Digital solutions, such as MRI PRO, can overcome the challenges of access to medical education that the NHS has faced during the pandemic, allowing clinical staff to continue to educate themselves and augment their skillset. This in turn helps to improve patient care. 

We expect to see a surge in flexible and active learning methods, both now and in the post-Covid “new normal”, as e-learning platforms begin to take precedence in contemporary medical education.

© Business Reporter 2020