Telehealth brings the virtual classroom to rural providers

New research shows a telehealth network is an effective way to conduct certification courses in chemotherapy biotherapy to oncology nurses living in rural areas--but most say they'd rather do their training in-person.

In Kansas, certified chemotherapy/biotherapy trainers are only available in metropolitan areas, according to Oncology Nurse Advisor. To meet the growing demand for chemotherapy certified nurses, The Midwest Cancer Alliance, The University of Kansas Cancer Center, and The University of Kansas Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth partnered to deliver a chemotherapy/biotherapy training course using interactive tele-videoconferencing.

As a result of this initiative, which began in 2008, 174 nurses from seven communities across the state have completed the course via ITV and received their provider card, according to the article.

"The increased number of nurses certified in ONS Chemotherapy Biotherapy through the MCA demonstrates that this method of delivery is successful and supports our plan to expand our professional development opportunities using ITV as the delivery mechanism," the researchers concluded.

While the MCA members have access to the ONS Chemotherapy Biotherapy course online, they indicated that they would prefer to participate in an in-person delivery of the course, according to the research, which was presented at the Oncology Nursing Society meeting this week.

Rural communities are particularly suited to remote learning programs, noted an article published earlier this year in the Journal of Cancer Education.

"Difficulties accessing continuing professional education contribute to the challenges of providing comprehensive healthcare in the rural setting," the authors wrote. "Telehealth can inform and educate rural providers about changes in medicine and evidence-based practices, both of which may help them provide quality care."

Some programs offer combination live and remote training programs, FireceHealthIT reported earlier this year.

To learn more:
- read about the new research in Oncology Nurse Advisor
- see the Journal of Cancer Education article