A PODCASTS-BASED INFORMATION PORTAL FOR CONTINUOUS MEDICAL EDUCATION

V. Dimov 1*, K. Uzunova-Dimova 2, A. Kumar 1, A. Rajamanickam 1, S. Randhawa 3, S. Noor 1, A. Usmani 1,1 Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, U.S.A, 2 Private practice, Cleveland, OH 44140, U.S.A., 3 Private practice, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308, U.S.A.

Purpose
A podcast is an audio or video file which is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on demand. Most major medical journals and organizations provide free podcast feeds which can be downloaded to a personal computer or/and an MP3 player. The usefulness of such approach for continuous medical education may deserve further investigation.

Methods
We used a Google.com personalized page to create a medical podcast portal which compiled information from 5 sources: The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Johns Hopkins Medicine and The Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education. The audio files were collected on one easy-to-scan page which updates itself automatically whenever a new podcast was published. All 28 academic hospitalists at a large tertiary care center were granted access to the podcasts and asked to use them. An anonymous survey comprised of 9 questions with a 5-point Likert scale (5-1, strongly agree-strongly disagree) was designed to evaluate the perceived usefulness of the podcasts and was distributed to its users.

Results
Forty three percent of the users (12 of 28) completed the questionnaire, 100% of them rated the podcast portal as useful and easy-to-use, 92% thought that they changed the way they learn in a positive way. All users claimed the podcasts were helping them to stay up-to-date with the new developments in medicine.

Conclusion
Downloadable portable audio files (podcasts) may be a convenient way to provide continuous medical education for health professionals.