Rural Telementoring Training Center (RTTC): Telementoring for Health Care in Rural Underserved Populations

Established in September 2020 with funding from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), the Rural Telementoring Training Center (RTTC) is a collaboration to provide national training and technical assistance for Telementoring, a form of technology-enabled collaborative learning that promotes deep learning and capacity building in support of health care in rural and underserved areas across the US.

This program has five main goals:

  1. Deliver Telementoring training and technical assistance. The RTTC will plan and deliver nationwide training and technical assistance to academic medical centers and other centers of excellence on Telementoring for clinical practice that addresses the needs of rural and underserved populations and for career and workforce development to limit rural health care workforce shortages
  2. Identify Telementoring best practices. Through review of existing literature and key-informant interviews, we will determine measures of success and promote best practices for Telementoring programs to increase their viability in rural areas.
  3. Develop tools for evaluating Telementoring programs. The RTTC will support the evaluation of rural health Telementoring services by developing program evaluation tools.
  4. Gather and share valuable data and perspectives about Telementoring. We will establish the RTTC as a reliable, accessible source of expertise to inform policy makers about opportunities for rural Telementoring and support their development of rural Telementoring programs and models.
  5. Share resources and findings. Through a systematic process that covers a wide range of publicly-available venues, the RTTC will share free resources, tools, and findings with a national audience to support broader understand and uptake of Telementoring to support rural health.

Doctor participating in telementoringWhat is Telementoring?

With the boom of tele-technologies in health care, it’s important to understand the distinction between key terms so that health professionals can identify the right tool for their patients’ needs. Telemedicine refers to the use of telecommunication to connect patients with their providers in real time. One example of telemedicine is when a patient attends a virtual appointment with their provider through a video call. In contrast, Telementoring is the use of telecommunication technology to educate health professionals and inform care delivery in real-time or asynchronously. An example of Telementoring would be a local primary care provider consulting with a specialist for guidance about a patient with a complex disease. The “tele” component offers the opportunity to close geographic gaps with technology; the “mentoring” component suggests deep learning, guided practice, and workforce development.

Types of Telementoring:

The RTTC will deliver training, technical assistance, and evaluation tools for six key Telementoring modalities:

Project ECHO

A hub-and-spoke model that utilizes videoconferencing to connect academic specialists with community-based providers to share brief didactics and build knowledge through case-based discussion.

Webinars

Live audiovisual expert presentations delivered by an individual or panel with a discussion and interactive question and answer component.

Individual consultation

The use of phone or video conferencing to support one-on-one consultation between a subject matter expert or specialist
and a community-based health worker.

Online video modules

Self-paced learning via online modules that incorporate active learning strategies and are grounded in teaching-learning principles. Modules may be with or without audio.

Podcasts

Audio (or audio with visual enhancements) broadcasts about a topic of interest that are electronically distributed and consumed via platforms such as web pages and handheld devices.

Community Health Clubs

Ongoing peer-to-peer support through facilitated health clubs consisting of health care
workers who meet regularly to educate about a specific health care issue.

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