With whole sections of society migrating online during the COVID-19 pandemic, e-learning has risen to the fore in medical education. Thomas Binder, founder and chairman of 123sonography.com considers how online learning has become a staple for healthcare professionals during the pandemic, and using the case example of a carotid ultrasound, details how this may consider into the future.
COVID-19 has clearly accelerated the transition towards digital learning in medicine. Healthcare professionals are currently flooded with webinars provided by institutions, societies, industry and conference organisers; while some are also conducting entire virtual conferences. But, these means of digital learning are by far not the only way medical education can be delivered via the Internet.
During the lockdown we saw a huge demand for courses delivered via 123sonography.com, a site founded in 2009 which now provides 16 courses in areas such as echocardiography, abdominal- , vascular-, point of care-, emergency medicine, muscular skeletal- and paediatric ultrasound. Many healthcare professionals have realised that online learning is a good alternative to live seminars, especially for case-based learning and to obtain theoretical knowledge, and when forced to stay home many also used the opportunity to learn ultrasound online.
With this shift of education to the web many healthcare professionals have, for the first time realised the advantages of digital learning. This includes being able to study from the comfort of their home and on the go, as well as being able to save money on travel. But, the advantages of online learning go beyond convenience and cost effectiveness. Research suggests that online learning increases retention of information, and takes less time. For many forms of learning it is much more efficient than classroom teaching.
The COVID-19 crisis also had a large impact on faculty and organisers, who have been forced to embrace digital modes of learning, many of whom were previously resistant to technology-enhanced learning. They have now experienced how easy it can be to implement digital learning and will certainly use theses modes of learning also after the COVID restrictions fall. The economic prospects in online education triggered by the lockdown will likely also accelerate the growth and further development in online technology to deliver e-learning. Digital learning modules will be easier to create and also more accessible for the users In summary, there is consensus among experts that the percentage of online education in medicine will sharply increase in the upcoming months.
Online ultrasound teaching
123sonography is also expanding its curriculum. With its newest release: the “Carotid Ultrasound Masterclass” 123sonography is adding one of the most commonly performed ultrasound modalities to its portfolio. Carotid ultrasound is important for neurologists, vascular specialists, vascular surgeons, cardiologists and in general medicine. The indications for carotid artery ultrasound go beyond looking for stenosis.
It can be considered the window to the vascular system. Plaques reflect the overall atherosclerotic burden and allows risk assessment for stroke, coronary- and peripheral artery disease.
Together with Janet Hoyler BA, RDMS, RVT trained at the Mass General Hospital and former educator at the Brigham’s and Women´s Hospital in Boston experts from radiology, vascular medicine and surgery we have created a five-hour CME–PRA 1 accredited course that covers all aspects of carotid and vertebral artery ultrasound.
It was our intention to go beyond explaining the diagnostic procedure of carotid ultrasound and how it is performed. We think it is equally important to provide clinical guidance in an attempt to help the trainee fully understand the impact of the ultrasound findings. While these online course are only one example of many that demonstrate the potentials of online learning it highlights what we can expect to see more of in the future. After all there is consensus among experts that online education in medicine, with all its facets, will become the new normal.