Dr. Tom O'Callaghan, CEO and Founder of iheed and 

Dr. Kunal D Patel, Head of Research & Advocacy, iheedNext generation innovative approaches to medical education using mobile platforms, online inter-professional communities of practice and competency based assessments offer the opportunity to rapidly transform doctors, nurses and other community-based practitioners expertise and competency to meet their community and patient needs.This is where care can be delivered at a fraction of the cost of hospital based care with patients being treated and managed early in their illness in the community by family doctors and other members of the primary care whom they know and trust and can look at their entire holistic, physical, psychological, emotional and social needs.Eighty five percent of all global health budgets are spent on the main chronic diseases like Heart Disease, Mental Health, Cancer Care and Diabetes with Diabetes alone accounting for 10 percent of global health budgets.

Achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) will only be possible by rapidly increasing the numbers, expertise and competencies of community based family doctors and broader members of the primary care team as this is the only cost-effective solution

A recent report, by iheed (leading Irish online medical education organisation) has brought together the views of the leading global experts in medical education on the best methodology to achieve Universal Health Coverage using innovative technology solutions and educational approaches.

By researching the best educational approaches and advocating for change in how we deliver such medical education, iheed has developed delivered and published evidence on the outcomes of successfully delivering university accredited education programmes for members of the primary care team. These methods have embraced what they advocate for, including a strong partnership model with universities and postgraduate training bodies.iheed is an Irish next generation medical education partner provider that works with Ministries and Governments around the globe to transforming medical education programmes for their doctors, nurses and the broader primary care staff.

Dr. Kunal D Patel,  Head of Research & Advocacy, iheedThe report points out some startling facts including the facts that 40 percent of the world’s population have no adequate health coverage, while by 2035 we will have a global shortage of 12.9 million health workers by 2035. Further analysis reveals that the majority of all health care needs can be managed at the primary care level, therefore innovative medical education is a must to strengthen and improve numbers of workers within the primary care sector. By utilizing information communication technologies (ICTs) within the education space, the report states: workforce capacity can improve; recruitment and retraining can improve; education becomes more cost effective; contextualized learning can be facilitated as well as collaborative, inter-professional training and quality of care improves by facilitating research and best practice.

From an Indian perspective, these recommendations are key, if we are to successfully deliver medical education and strengthen the health workforce. Currently, the urban-rural disparity is large, with 59.2 percent of health workers in urban areas, where 27.8 percent of the population resides, and 40.8 percent in rural areas, where 72.2 percent of the population resides. Additionally, as many as 31.4 percent allopathic (non ayurvedic, homeopathic or unani) Drs in India, are educated only up to secondary school level and as many as 57.3 percent do not have a medical qualification. It is therefore clear that education of these health care workers must improve and with India’s continual and impressive improvements in ICT infrastructure, the opportunity to use such methodologies for education is here. Based on current research these methodologies include online learning to developing ICT based communities of practice.

The research and education outputs that iheed have produced clearly show that online and mobile delivery improve the health workforce however, this can only be further achieved if global expertise is harnessed. This ranges from global leaders in clinical medicine acting as faculty and mentors to inter-professional education approaches. Such expertise, via the cloud and innovative mobile platforms and online communities of practitioners sharing learning have strengthened ICT based training. The key is successfully developing delivering and managing this interface between academic expertise and education delivery.

This is the way and now is the time for India to strengthen its primary care workforce capacity to achieve Universal Health Coverage and contain escalating health expenditure.

To compliment its social mission of achieving universal healthcare via the use of ICT, iheed have just launched a postgraduate diploma Diabetes in Primary care accredited by St. George’s University of London (Top 100 world ranking medical university). 


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