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Technological advancement in medical education

by Vijay Garg
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Healthcare education has been the forerunner in adapting innovative technologies because medical education and healthcare management have been intricately intertwined in the teaching-learning methodologies of the students. The advent of cutting-edge technologies in the 21st century accelerated the process of evolution of both hardware and software, leading to faster adoption of the same in medical education and the healthcare system.
Earlier, healthcare education was limited to the government sector. But this increased the demand-supply gap, and the availability of doctors was scarce. This led to the setting up of more medical schools in India, while a majority of private hospitals were set up.
Government vs private hospitals
The main teaching material in a healthcare campus is a patient. By and large, the patients admitted to government medical institutes have been undergoing free treatment, as the state bears the expenses for the same. Such a population has been always cooperative in assisting in teaching-learning sessions. With the advent of private medical schools, this equation has changed. Often, the patients would refuse to be a part of the teaching-learning environment since they are paying for their treatment. Moreover, in highly literate States, the patients would not be forthcoming in such circumstances.
Evolution of medical education
Medical education has rapidly travelled from blackboard and patients to smart classes and virtual patients. Technological transformation in medical education has transformed primary health care to state-of-the-art quaternary care, in the form of robotics. This has been possible due to the rapid evolution of medical education technologies by raising the gold standards of medical curriculum through mapping, blue printing, evolving specific learning objectives, application of teaching learning, assessment through virtual patients and other high-fidelity technologies which rapidly accelerated during the global pandemic.
New technologies are imbibed into the healthcare system to benefit the patients. This includes patenting better drug delivery modes, nanotechnology/genetic studies, biotechnological advancements, robotics in laparoscopic surgeries and artificial prosthesis. Multiple organ transplantation and or hand transplantation requires newer methodologies and theories. Skilling doctors as part of these innovations is vital to healthcare training to avoid any disruptions. Highly accredited medical schools are conducting fellowship training programmes to ensure the same.
Electronic health records, AI, robotics, evolution of online classes through various platforms, application of modern technologies in biomedical research have augmented the medical education technologies along with newer and interactive assessment platforms as envisaged in various state of the art Learning Management Systems (LMS). Teaching and learning methodologies have been rapidly evolving even after the pandemic slowed down, as is evident with advent of evolving technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), envisioning a future where the physical and digital entities can be linked.
Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME) has guidelines for asynchronous learning along with synchronous learning. Learning should not be confined to lectures or teaching hours. Students are encouraged for Self Directed Learning through exploratory methods, which can include online e-learning modules and published literature sources, and the role of the faculty member or teacher is a facilitator for the same. This promotes the learners to be self-reliant in the teaching-learning process and to be updated with the latest concepts.
The conventional lectures used to be didactic, whereas now they are interactive and are held in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) enabled classrooms. Simulation centres built in medical schools help with simulation learning that ranges from small procedural interventions on models to a full-sized simulation patient. This helps the learners with hands-on experience of reality, without the involvement of an actual patient following CBME guidelines. The role of telemedicine in giving healthcare to remote locations is vital in healthcare training today. It has played a pivotal role given the involvement of online teaching-learning methodologies.

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