Lessons learned from the pandemic about telehealth and online classrooms
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated the adoption of telehealth and online classrooms, and we’ve learned a lot from this experience. Here are some key lessons and potential improvements:
- Adoption and Accessibility: Telemedicine has been available for many years, but it was not widely used due to inconsistent coverage and unfamiliarity with the technology1. The pandemic drove the institution of telemedicine in all areas of healthcare1. However, disparities in accessibility were observed by sex, residing area, income, and census region2.
- Infrastructure: A robust technological infrastructure was key to ensuring a quick telehealth transition3.
- Policy Changes: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took steps to expedite the adoption of telehealth during the pandemic. Some of these flexibilities have been made permanent while others are temporary4.
Improvements for Telehealth:
- Optimizing Use: The key challenge may be optimizing the use of telehealth5.
- Policy Changes: To account for Covid-19, 22 states and Medicare expanded coverage of telehealth services6.
- Physician Needs: Liability coverage, data privacy, and workflow integration with electronic health record (EHR) systems were identified as physician needs for adoption7.
- Adaptability: Teachers had to adapt to unexpected conditions, teaching in unprecedented ways, using synchronous and asynchronous instruction8.
- Innovation: Despite the hardships endured by students, faculty, and staff, the university’s pivot to remote education offers valuable lessons for the future9.
- Engagement: Fully online college students are twice as likely to say they are ‘comfortable sharing their opinions in class’ compared to fully in-person students10.
Improvements for Online Classrooms:
- Hybrid Learning: Hybrid learning – which combines in-person and remote learning – is here to stay11.
- Teacher Commitment: During the pandemic, teachers have become less certain that they would work a full career in the classroom8.
- Innovation Adoption: Abandoning the presumption that teacher-and-student-in-classroom is the right model for all students or all learning makes much else possible12.
These lessons can guide us in improving telehealth services and online classrooms even after the pandemic.