Telemedicine In-Person Training Programs Propelled to Livestream– With Unexpected Benefits!

The Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) has been hosting in-person telemedicine training events for over 20 years with approximately 1000 participants.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of that changed seemingly overnight, and not only for ATP, but for many organizations across all industries.  As the Distance Education and Event Coordinator for ATP, it was time to think outside the box and get creative. We already had a platform for hosting hour-long webinars, but could we transition an all-day, traditionally in-person training program utilizing the same platform?

With only 13 days before our next training session in March, we found out the answer to that question is an absolute yes! Not only did we deliver our telemedicine training via livestream, we were also able to have unlimited participation.  We went from a normal participation rate of 45-50 participants split between our Tucson and Phoenix physical locations to 946 virtual participants on March 23, 2020.  Along with 39 US states, we had 10 other countries represented within our cohort of participants.

Those 13 prep days were filled with a flurry of activity for our entire ATP team. We had 45 participants ready to attend an in-person training session, 34 for our Phoenix location, and 11 for our Tucson location.  We updated our website, sent out email notices to our subscriber lists, reached out to our past participants, and made announcements on National Public Radio.  Within eight days we had 374 registered, but two days later, that number went up to 642.  Within the next three days, the registration number peaked at 1307 by the time we started the program, “Developing Telemedicine Services” at 9:00 AM on March 23, 2020.

This set the stage for our new reality – the livestream training program.  One feature of utilizing the webinar platform is a live chat portal for participants to send in questions during the presentations.  This feature allows participants to engage immediately, and our team could respond both individually and to the entire cohort, especially when similar questions were being asked simultaneously.  These questions helped start our COVID-19 FAQ page on our website, which is now continuously updated and organized with information for both healthcare providers and consumers and includes state-specific information.

As we received updated information from the leadership of the University of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Health, we transitioned our subsequent in-person telemedicine trainings to the livestream platform.  June and July were first, and now September and November trainings are set for livestream. The live chat portal again proved to be extremely valuable. With the questions submitted  during the June 1, 2020, presentation, “Securing Telemedicine Technologies” by Mike Holcomb, Associate Director, Information Technology for ATP, Mike was able to create a four-page resource document answering the questions submitted and provided various links. We emailed this directly to each participant and is available on our website.

Although in-person training provides face-to-face interaction with participants, the livestream has allowed a larger and broader reach to participants that might not otherwise be able to attend. The chat feature keeps participants engaged and provides an opportunity to create more resources based on current needs from the cohort of learners.  This is just one of many valuable uses of the livestream format. Focusing on training medical professionals in the use of the telemedicine processes has just become even easier by using the same technology! 

About the Author

Melanie Esher-Blair 1's picture

Melanie Esher-Blair, MAdm is the Distance Education and Event Coordinator with the Arizona Telemedicine Program.  She received her Master of Administration with an emphasis in both Project Management and Construction Management through Northern Arizona University, and her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of Minnesota.  She has extensive experience coordinating educational conferences and training events over the course of her career for both private and public organizations.

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