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Mobile Technology to Infiltrate Radiology Education

Mobile Technology to Infiltrate Radiology Education

It has been coined that mobile is eating the world, but it’s also going to eat health care, including imaging, George Shih, MD, associate professor of clinical radiology, Weill Cornell Medical College, predicted at SIIM 2014.

Mobile internet is the most destructive technology we’ll see in the next decade or so, Shih said.

A primary drive of mobile web popularity is its accessibility. More than 50 percent of physicians use a smartphone to do their job, according to a recent Physicians Practice survey.

While mobile technology is a lot of fun and games, it also has proven to be a valuable resource in education.

Where the department of radiology and imaging sciences at the Indiana University School of Medicine saw value in mobile technology was their residency program.

“When we started talking about this, one of the main things we wanted to do was make sure we weren’t just handing [residents] a device, we were handing them a tool that they were going to use, fully loaded with software and resources,” said Marc Kohli, MD, of the department of radiology at Indiana University (IU).

The implementation was part of a strategy to make the IU radiology program more attractive. Match statistics of radiology are down as students see instability in the shift of payment models, Kohli said. “There are more openings in top radiology programs across the country, and so you really need to find ways to differentiate yourself and make yourself competitive, and tablets are very sexy.”

The IU strategy mirrored the “Radiology Resident iPad Toolbox,” which was created and implemented by the University of Colorado (CU), who also helped IU implement the strategy. CU distributed iPads to residents equipped with comprehensive resources and tools with a goal of creating a single portable resource that contains or provides direct access to a carefully selected suite of tools to serve as a “one-stop shop” for all things radiology, according to an article in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The educational uses of the strategy were a key component in both the bidding process and the implementation process. To promote the efficiency provided by the tablet, CU divided the preloaded content into three categories:

Educational: Textbooks (e-books), journal access, case files, note taking software, lecture notes and videos

Clinical: DICOM viewers, applications to access electronic medical records, online reference systems, access to the hospital’s PACS

Communications: remote meeting and video conferencing software, applications that allow audience response during departmental lectures, department and hospital contact list

The implementation was a significant effort and required securing finances, evaluating current resources and processes, choosing a device, ensuring a properly trained IT department and carefully scrutinizing the iPad’s content.

Both Colorado and Indiana found the tablet strategy to have cost-saving benefits. For example, CU was able to buy one e-book for five devices because of the licensing allowance, Kohli said. “Some of the online modules [IU] was paying for access to could be stripped out because [IU] could provide the same content for cheaper on these devices.”

The majority of the cost-savings were a result of the bulk discounts. The total cost of each fully loaded device at CU was $1,272, if the same device had been created for a single individual, it would have cost $3,703, according to the JACR article.

To minimize personal use of the devices, residents had to sign usage agreements stating that the device belonged to the department.

“One of our main focuses was this is a tool for you to help you get your work done, this is not your personal device…your computer at home is not the same as your PACS workstation, your PACS workstation has specialized software and specialized tools that help you do your job, and that’s what we are going to do with the tablet. This is a tool I’m handing you that’s going to enable you to learn throughout your four years with us,” Kohli said.

Residents at CU had encouraging feedback about the study. Seventy-four percent of the residents reported the iPad facilitated access to educational materials to a higher degree, and 88 percent reported increased studying efficiency to a high or moderate degree, according to the JACR article. All 34 residents in the program reported they would recommend the iPad to a colleague. Metrics of the IU implementation are yet to be published.

What drives BYOD is not cost savings, but productivity and satisfaction, Shih said.

The CU and IU implementation of tablets represents a paradigm shift in resident education, according to the JACR article.

 

 
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