UTHSC Launches Elective Course in Telemedicine

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Due to the increased attention focused on telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic, experts at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are collaborating to offer a new elective course to medical students.

Dr. Sajeesh Kumar

Launched last month, the six-credit-hour course trains medical students in the clinical practice of telemedicine, technology, policies, benefits, and drawbacks. Sajeesh Kumar, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Diagnostics and Health Sciences in the College of Health Professions in Memphis, and John S. White, II, MD, assistant professor of family medicine in the College of Medicine in Jackson, Tennessee, co-direct the course.

The practice of telemedicine, or the use of technology to evaluate and treat patients who are at a location separate from their health care provider, has increased substantially since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. “Prior to COVID-19, telemedicine was more of a niche practice,” Dr. Kumar said. “Technically it has been around ever since the invention of the telephone but is now being utilized more because it was quickly realized that if physicians could provide care via telemedicine, we might be able to help flatten the curve of infection. Simply put, telemedicine provides faster care and avoids risk of infecting others or contacting the coronavirus and other infectious diseases.”

 Dr. John S. White,II

Students will learn and be trained on synchronous and asynchronous telemedicine platforms. Synchronous platforms are live, audio/visual communication that allow direct communication with the patient in real time, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Dox.me, and Doximity. Asynchronous platforms do not take place in real time. Examples of this include email and patient portal interactions. Training will also include clinical specialty practices, such as telepsychiatry, telepediatrics and real-time interaction with telehealth providers and patients in a remote clinical setting.

“We are committed to providing professional telemedicine and health information technology programs in a distinct learning environment that prepares our students to be leaders in the changing global health care scene,” said Dr. Kumar. “Our timely development and delivery of telemedicine education, outreach, and public service contributes to the economic, social, and environmental well-being of all in Tennessee and beyond.”

For more information, please contact Dr. Valerie Jameson at vjameson@uthsc.edu.