health care | November 14, 2012

Doctors As Teachers: Salman Khan Flips The Classroom. Are Hospitals Next?

The revolutionary work that Salman Khan has been doing in the education sector, which recently landed him a spot on the cover of Forbes, was also featured in the online version of the magazine this week. Khan's method of "flipping the classroom" has earned him the respect and attention of educators and policy makers nationwide. But his influential ideas aren't confined to the classroom. Rather, the article suggests that doctors and other health care practitioners are finding that video technology can dramatically change the system. Similar to the way Khan promotes the use of video to teach students, some doctors are using the same strategy to teach patients.

"In many ways doctors are teachers wearing white coats," the article reads, and these doctors/teachers are overworked due in part to having to repeat the same lessons over and over again. And sadly, only 10-20 per cent of that material is absorbed by the patient—since many of us often forget the majority of what our doctors tell us, the article says. "One of the nice things about Khan Academy is learners with different skill levels can watch the videos in different ways," the author writes. This can also work well for educating patients. Doctors can produce videos—available to patients at home—that go over common prognoses and medical terms so that patients are better informed when they come to the clinic, and can go over anything they may not have fully understood after they leave. Since doctors are often bogged down teaching the same diagnoses, treatment, and prescription options hundreds of times over, the ability for patients to learn on their own time may lessen the load on doctors, freeing them up to see more patients. Further, the article suggests, this can help to humanize health care practices, giving the patient a glimpse into what their doctor is like as a person.

"Imagine targeted video or textual content that has been curated or created by your physician automatically being delivered to you based on your diagnosis or condition into a secure environment," the article proposes. If this is put into practice anywhere near as effectively as Khan's educational videos, the idea could have a dramatic impact on the health care system. By allowing people to work at their own pace with specialized learning material, Khan has created a breakthrough method of learning. At his Khan Academy, and in his book The One World Schoolhouse, he proposes a teaching strategy that doesn't focus on uniform curriculum or getting students from one grade to another regardless of their knowledge absorption. In his eye-opening keynotes, Khan shares his vision for the future of learning.

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