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Surgical Innovation
July 2016

Video Telementoring to Accelerate Learning of New Surgical Techniques

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
JAMA Surg. 2016;151(7):671-672. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.0054

Video telementoring is a technique of telemedicine in which an experienced physician remotely observes and guides a less-experienced caregiver in a particular procedure or treatment. It is a form of preceptoring, which is to be distinguished from proctoring, in which the role of the proctor is to evaluate (eg, for a credentialing committee), not to teach. Telementoring is emerging as a vital augmentation of surgical education with roots dating back to the 1950s. In 1959, the University of Nebraska implemented a telemedicine program to support continuing medical education in remote areas of the state. Soon thereafter, the National Aviation and Space Administration began a program to provide health care to Indian reservations in rural Arizona, a step toward developing the remote physiologic monitoring needed for space. Other programs followed, including those at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Dartmouth Medical College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where telemedicine was used to improve emergency services to airport passengers and provide continuing medical education to rural communities, respectively. However, these early attempts were not economically viable at the time, and all were eventually closed down.1 Telementoring truly emerged as a viable surgical teaching mechanism in the 1990s, largely in parallel with the development of advanced laparoscopic techniques. Recent advances in technology, along with their more widespread availability, ease of access, and decreased costs, have dramatically increased the potential applications of telementoring in surgery.

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