Reacts improves ultrasound training via telehealth platform
July 7, 2016
Many physicians looking to acquire practical ultrasound training face the challenge of finding competent mentors, and enough cases from which to learn. For some, it means taking time off work and away from family to travel and participate in seminars or workshops.
This doesn’t guarantee competency, especially if upon return to work there are no cases to practice, and no mentor to provide feedback. What if you could practice your ultrasound techniques while staying put, and have a quality mentor available – remotely?
“The Reacts platform allows experts and trainees from medical and non-medical disciplines to interact live or offline for remote assistance, training, supervision or communication,” said Dr. Yanick Beaulieu, cardiologist-intensivist, president and CEO of Innovative Imaging Technologies Inc. (www.iitreacts.com).
Reacts (Remote-Education-Augmented-Communication-Training-Supervision) is a secured, integrated collaborative platform that’s ideal for both medical education and clinical uses. With its live video streaming and multi-media tools, it allows people to communicate and interact, teach and discuss collaboratively – all from remote locations.
“It has interactive features, and the real-time video feed from any ultrasound machine can be connected to Reacts (via the computer’s USB port) using off-the-shelf converters.
You can also use images and video clips to show normal and abnormal cases. The goal is to combine all the multi-media in order to provide richer live or asynchronous training,” said Dr. Beaulieu.
Even when remote supervision is unavailable, users can sit at the patient bedside, connect to Reacts, plug in a web-cam, describe what they’re doing, save and send it via store-and-forward mode to the instructor to analyze later.
“Learners need competent mentors, and continuous interactive education to maintain practical skills and knowledge of bedside ultrasound. Their work needs to be reported, corrected and optimally supervised to develop adequate experience from each procedure performed,” said Dr. Beaulieu.
In April, Dr. Jason Waechter, an intensivist-anesthesiologist, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Calgary and founder of TeachingMedicine.com, provided a six-hour bedside ultrasound course for critical care physicians at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. Most of the course was dedicated to hands-on scanning, allowing participants to practice their echocardiography image acquisition skills.
“It was a one-day course with a focus on how to obtain cardiac ultrasound images,” said Dr. Waechter. “There were six instructors, 11 students and 11 standardized patients – one for each station.”
One of the stations was supervised remotely by Dr. Beaulieu from his office at Sacré-Coeur hospital in Montreal, by way of the Reacts application. He provided remote one-to-one supervision and feedback to the trainees who rotated through that station.
With a webcam directed on the torso of a model and the video feed of the ultrasound machine connected to Reacts (through the USB port of the computer), he interacted with participants by indicating structures with virtual pointers, superimposed pictures onto live scans to explain cardiac anatomy, and gave instructive points about normal/abnormal cases by comparing video clips with live scan images.
Dr. Waechter believes the learning experience was equivalent to having a live instructor. “If you had a live instructor, they could physically hold your hand with the probe and move it. Being remote imposes limitations, but Reacts application is versatile enough to overcome the limitations of being a remote instructor. It was ‘as good’ as having him there.”
And it’s definitely superior to practicing alone without feedback. “We chose Reacts because it simulates a “live” bedside instructor,” said Dr. Waechter.