Cardiologists need telemedicine built into training, survey suggests

Many cardiology trainees are uncomfortable using telemedicine and want more telemedicine training built into their curriculum, according to survey results published May 11 in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

A total of 86 cardiology trainees from 12 programs in Canada completed the self-administered survey, with a 65 percent response rate. There were four categories of questions: background, exposure to telemedicine before COVID-19, current telemedicine experience, and perceived barriers to telemedicine. 

Forty-five percent of trainees said they were exposed to telemedicine before COVID-19, rising to 78 percent after COVID-19. 

"We found that only 51 percent of the trainees were comfortable or very comfortable with providing outpatient care via telemedicine," said Parvathy Nair, MD, principal investigator and cardiologist at Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia. "We attributed this to the lack of dedicated telemedicine training."

Of the 67 trainees engaged in telemedicine, four reported full supervision with an attending physician overseeing the whole virtual visit, 13 reported partial supervision and 50 said they had minimal or no supervision, according to the survey findings. 

"Our finding that three-quarters of the trainees had minimal or no supervision when carrying out virtual visits suggests that lack of sight oversight may contribute to this lack of trainee comfort," Dr. Nair said. 

Telemedicine requires different skills than face-to-face visits, such as effective web-side manners, agenda setting and reflective listening, researchers said. In response to the survey findings, the lead investigators are creating a telemedicine curriculum for cardiology trainees.

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