Exploring Key Components of Successful Distance Learning Programs: A Case Study in Palau

Main Article Content

Tyler Thorne
Maiya Smith
Gregory Dever

Keywords

Distance Learning, Palau, Telehealth

Abstract

Introduction: The Pacific faces multiple healthcare crises, including high rates of noncommunicable diseases, infectious disease outbreaks, and susceptibility to natural disasters. These issues are expected to worsen in the coming decades, increasing the burden on an already understaffed healthcare system. Improvements in technology and accessibility have increased telehealth’s utility and have already proven to reduce costs and increase access to care in remote areas. Telehealth includes distance learning; a form of education that can help alleviate many healthcare issues by providing education to healthcare professionals and upskilling staff, which can promote workforce retention and decrease patient mortality. Distance learning programs at the Ministry of Health in the Pacific nation of Palau were examined and key elements to their success were identified.


Methods: Thirty-four people, mostly health professionals at the Belau National Hospital in Palau were interviewed. Standardized questions and surveys were conducted in person throughout the month of July 2019.


Findings: Two examples of successful distance learning programs were identified. Consulting with staff and analyzing each program, four factors for a successful distance learning program were identified: having a cohort, having a facilitator, dedicated study time off from work, and motivation.


Conclusions: In countries as geographically isolated as the Pacific, with poor access to specialists and resources, telehealth has the potential to radically change how healthcare is delivered. Palau shares similar resources and issues as other countries in the Pacific and the lessons learned from their successful programs can be adapted to help other Pacific nations develop their own distance learning programs.

Abstract 28 | PDF Downloads 1

References

1. Disaster risk reduction and emergencies. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.unicef.org/pacificislands/what-we-do/disaster-risk-reduction-emergencies
2. Unnikrishnan R, Mohan V. Diabetes in the tropics: prevalent, increasing and a major public health problem. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2016;110(5):263-264. doi:10.1093/trstmh/trw021
3. Addressing noncommunicable diseases in the Pacific islands. Accessed December 24, 2020. https://www.who.int/westernpacific/activities/addressing-ncds-in-the-pacific
4. Kwai I, Abbott M. ‘Why My Baby?’: How Measles Robbed Samoa of Its Young (Published 2019). The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/19/world/asia/samoa-measles.html. Published December 19, 2019. Accessed December 24, 2020.
5. Accessed December 27, 2020. http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/168951503668157320/pdf/ACS22308-PUBLIC-P154324-ADD-SERIES-PPFullReportFINALscreen.pdf
6. Withy K, Mapelli P, Perez J, Finberg A, Green J. Hawai‘i Physician Workforce Assessment 2016: Improvement in Physician Numbers but Physician Suicides of Concern. Hawaii J Med Public Health. 2017;76(3 Suppl 1):3-9.
7. Henderson LN, Tulloch J. Incentives for retaining and motivating health workers in Pacific and Asian countries. Hum Resour Health. 2008;6(1):18. doi:10.1186/1478-4491-6-18
8. Health Workforce. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.who.int/data/maternal-newborn-child-adolescent/monitor
9. TELEMEDICINE AND TELEHEALTH IN THE PACIFIC ISLAND REGION: A SURVEY OF APPLICATIONS, EXPERIMENTS, AND ISSUES. Accessed December 27, 2020. http://peacesat.hawaii.edu/40RESOURCES/Library/Papers/telemed4.htm
10. Bynum AB, Irwin CA, Cranford CO, Denny GS. The Impact of Telemedicine on Patients’ Cost Savings: Some Preliminary Findings. Telemed J E Health. 2003;9(4):361-367. doi:10.1089/153056203772744680
11. Nayak A, Karopadi A, Antony S, Sreepada S, Nayak KS. Use of a Peritoneal Dialysis Remote Monitoring System in India. Perit Dial Int J Int Soc Perit Dial. 2012;32(2):200-204. doi:10.3747/pdi.2011.00124
12. Accessed December 24, 2020. https://www.palaugov.pw/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Palau-Hybrid-Report_FINAL.pdf
13. Horwood PF, Tarantola A, Goarant C, et al. Health Challenges of the Pacific Region: Insights From History, Geography, Social Determinants, Genetics, and the Microbiome. Front Immunol. 2019;10. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2019.02184
14. Telemedicine and its Role in Revolutionizing Healthcare Delivery. AJMC. Accessed December 27, 2020. https://www.ajmc.com/view/telemedicine-and-its-role-in-revolutionizing-healthcare-delivery
15. Griffiths P, Maruotti A, Saucedo AR, et al. Nurse staffing, nursing assistants and hospital mortality: retrospective longitudinal cohort study. BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28(8):609-617. doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2018-008043