BACKGROUND: There is a growing interest in the use of digital technologies to foster learning in the health professions, along with the drive to expand teleconsultations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aims to explore whether telemedicine between levels of care can act as continuous medical education (CME) tool for general practitioners (GPs) and hospital consultants at the referral cardiology department.
METHODS: This qualitative study was embedded in an organizational case study of the introduction of a new service model in the Portuguese health system. Semi-structured interviews were audio-recorded and pseudonymized. The transcribed interviews were stored, coded, and content analysis was performed in MAXQDA.
RESULTS: A total of 11 physicians were interviewed. GPs and cardiologists recognized that telemedicine between levels of care could act as a CME tool. Although they departed with different expectations, telemedicine helped them collaborate as a multidisciplinary team, exchanging feedback about clinical decisions, and constructing knowledge collaboratively. Telemedicine also supplemented existing learning meetings. The consequences of technology adoption may be viewed as a result of the actors involved (including the technology itself), characteristics of the context (including the organization), and an interaction between such factors.
CONCLUSION: Teleconsultations can be a learning opportunity for the health professionals involved. Our findings suggest that, in the context of the Portuguese health system, telemedicine as a CME tool helped to build multidisciplinary teams which exchanged feedback and constructed shared knowledge to improve patients' outcomes. It also helped to identify practice-changing contents to be included in face-to-face educational meetings.
- continuing medical education
- continuity of care
- health information
- multidisciplinary care
- primary care
- qualitative research