Interactive internet-based clinical education: an efficient and cost-savings approach to point-of-care test training

Telemed J E Health. 2011 Jun;17(5):335-40. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2010.0187. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Background: We successfully created and implemented an effective HIV rapid testing training and certification curriculum using traditional in-person training at multiple sites within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System.

Objective: Considering the multitude of geographically remote facilities in the nationwide VA system, coupled with the expansion of HIV diagnostics, we developed an alternate training method that is affordable, efficient, and effective.

Methods: Using materials initially developed for in-person HIV rapid test in-services, we used a distance learning model to offer this training via live audiovisual online technology to educate clinicians at a remote outpatient primary care VA facility.

Results: Participants' evaluation metrics showed that this form of remote education is equivalent to in-person training; additionally, HIV testing rates increased considerably in the months following this intervention. Although there is a one-time setup cost associated with this remote training protocol, there is potential cost savings associated with the point-of-care nurse manager's time productivity by using the Internet in-service learning module for teaching HIV rapid testing. If additional in-service training modules are developed into Internet-based format, there is the potential for additional cost savings. Our cost analysis demonstrates that the remote in-service method provides a more affordable and efficient alternative compared with in-person training.

Conclusions: The online in-service provided training that was equivalent to in-person sessions based on first-hand supervisor observation, participant satisfaction surveys, and follow-up results. This method saves time and money, requires fewer personnel, and affords access to expert trainers regardless of geographic location. Further, it is generalizable to training beyond HIV rapid testing. Based on these consistent implementation successes, we plan to expand use of online training to include remote VA satellite facilities spanning several states for a variety of diagnostic devices. Ultimately, Internet-based training has the potential to provide "big city" quality of care to patients at remote (rural) clinics.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Cost Savings / methods
  • Education, Distance / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Nurse Clinicians / education*
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • United States