Improved rural provider access to continuing medical education through interactive videoconferencing

Telemed J E Health. 2000 Winter;6(4):393-9. doi: 10.1089/15305620050503861.


We sought to describe use patterns and user evaluation of remotely-attended continuing medical education (CME) programs in Vermont and upstate New York. Remote attendees were required to return an evaluation form to receive CME credit. The form included name and date of the program; name, location, and specialty of the respondent; and questions regarding program quality, value, effectiveness, and attendee plans if the program had not been available via telemedicine. From April, 1996, through December, 1998, health care providers from 14 remote sites used the network 927 times to attend 394 CME programs at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont. After the start-up period, an average of over three programs per week was attended, with an average of 2.4 remote attendees per program. Seventy-seven percent of remote attendees stated that they would not have attended the program if it had not been available over telemedicine, while the remaining 23% said that they avoided traveling due to videoconferencing. When asked the effectiveness of telemedicine technology for attending, 73% said it was as effective as having the presenter in the room, 23% said it was less effective, and 4% said it was more effective. Major technical problems, such as having the call disconnect during the presentation, decreased over time. There were continuing minor logistical problems common to large group videoconferencing. The telemedicine system has increased availability of CME programs for rural providers in Vermont and upstate New York. Most attendees have found the programs to be worthwhile, and technological advancements have improved the quality of the system.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / standards
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • New York
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Program Evaluation
  • Rural Population*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telecommunications / organization & administration*
  • Vermont
  • Videotape Recording / methods*
  • Videotape Recording / standards