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This article is the authors’ final published version in Cureus, Volume 10, Issue 4, April 2018, Article number e2433.

The published version is available at Copyright © Papanagnou et al.


Introduction: Given the rapid expansion of telehealth (TH), there is an emerging need for trained professionals who can effectively deliver TH services. As there is no formal TH training program for residents, the Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) at Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) developed a pilot training program for senior post-graduate-year three (PGY-3) residents that exposed them to TH practices. The objective of the study was to determine the feasibility of developing a resident-led, post-Emergency-Department (ED) visit TH follow-up program as an educational opportunity to 1) address patient satisfaction; and 2) expose senior residents to TH delivery.

Methods: During a one-month block in their third-year of training, EM residents were exposed to and educated on TH delivery and utility through on-the-job, just-in-time training. Residents spent four hours per week evaluating patients previously seen in the ED within the last 5-7 days in the form of TH follow-up visits. ED patients were screened to identify which patient chief complaints and presentations were appropriate for a follow-up visit, given a specific day and time for their TH encounter, facilitated by a resident, and supervised by a faculty member trained in TH. Demographic patient and visit data were collected. Residents then completed a brief survey at the end of the rotation to capture their educational experiences and recommendations for subsequent training improvement.

Results: Over 12 months, 197 TH follow-up visits were performed by 12 residents. One hundred twenty-six patients (64%) were female. Top chief complaints included extremity pain (11.2%); abdominal pain (8.1%); upper respiratory infections (8.1%); lacerations (7.6%), and motor vehicle accidents (7.6%). The average number of days between the ED visit and the TH follow-up call was 5.1 days (IQR 3-6). 44.7% of patients were compliant with their discharge instructions and medications. On a Likert scale low (1) to high (10)], average patient helpfulness rating was 8.2 (IQR 7.8-10) and the average patient likelihood to recommend a TH follow-up visit was 8.5 (IQR 8-10). Ten residents completed the follow-up survey on the educational experience of the rotation (response rate 83%), of which seven described there is value to have a TH rotation in the curriculum. Thematic analysis of open-ended responses yielded constructive feedback for programmatic improvement.

Conclusion: The authors propose a feasible TH training opportunity integrated into EM residency training to assist them with meeting a rapidly-growing demand for TH and prepare them for diverse job opportunities.

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