Applying Lessons Learned in Distance Education to Telehealth

M.S. Atkins, F. Belli, M. Kouadio, and R.N. McTavish (Canada)


distance education, telehealth, IT infrastructure


Both DE and telehealth systems provide remote access to services, supported by digital technology infrastructure. Both systems aim to enhance the quality of service for remote communities that may otherwise not have access to expert knowledge or support. Unlike DE, which has been employing technology to support and teach students remotely for some time, telehealth is relatively new, with no standard technological tools. This paper describes opportunities for re-use of IT systems employed in DE into telehealth applications, where the “student” and “educator” in the DE domain may be replaced by the “patient” and “remote health care provider” respectively in the telehealth domain. We consider similarities and differences between the requirements of patients vs. students, and the requirements of the remote health care provider vs. the educator. This investigation into the similarities of DE and telehealth exposes potential for the exploitation of DE systems and expertise that already exists and is readily available. Such resources may speed the employment of such technological tools for supporting patients remotely, increasing the options available for both health care professionals and patients.

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