Three faculty members in ATSU’s College of Graduate Health Studies are examining telemedicine patient education to note the effectiveness of using the distance education Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework model. Joan Leafman, PhD, associate professor, Doctor of Health Sciences program (DHSc), Kathleen Mathieson, PhD, associate professor, DHSc program and Still Research Institute Scientist, and Kellie Bliven, PhD, Kinesiology, are researching the “Application of the Community of Inquiry distance education framework to telemedicine patient education.”
The CoI framework was developed (Garrison, Anderson and Archer, 2000) to enhance successful online communication with focus given to the comprehensive teaching and learning cycle. The CoI is a validated distance education framework which contends that for an optimal teaching and learning experience, three presences (cognitive, teaching and social) must exist.
Drs. Leafman, Mathieson and Bliven are working in partnership with Phoenix Indian Health Services-Joslin Vision Network (IHS-JVN) at Phoenix Indian Medical Center (PIMC), where tele-ophthalmology exams are performed on diabetic patients annually to assess for risk of diabetes-related vision loss; and patients and caregivers who belong to any of the 35 online patient support communities established by Ben’s Friends, an organization which facilitates virtual support communities for people with rare diseases.
The results of the study to date have demonstrated that telemedicine is a favorable medium for patient education. According to Dr. Leafman, “This research is important because the practice of telemedicine is well-defined and rapidly expanding. In contrast, telemedicine patient education, an integral part of the telemedicine process, is not well-defined. Without a meaningful understanding of how to comprehensively engage patients effectively, telemedicine practices and applications may be unsuccessful”.