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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-6

"The refer less resolve more" initiative: A five-year experience from CMC Vellore, India

Department of Distance Education, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Jachin Velavan
Department of Distance Education, II Floor, Main Building, Ida Scudder Road, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu - 632 004
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2249-4863.94439

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India's one billion plus strong population presents huge health care needs. Presently, approximately 250,000 general practitioners and 30,000 Government doctors are a part of the Indian healthcare workforce, but 80% of them are based in urban India. Problems which plague healthcare delivery and attributed to physician practice may be enumerated as - physicians (1) lack competencies, (2) lack updating, (3) prescribe irrationally (pressures from pharmaceutical companies and patients), (4) practice unethically, (5) refer excessively to specialists and other clinical professionals, and (6) investigate for diseases without justification. A multi-competent Family Physician who could provide a single-window, ethical, and holistic healthcare to patients and families is the need of the hour. Therefore, training, equipping, and empowering these 250,000 doctors to become such physicians will reduce health costs considerably. Distance medical education using all the andragogic methods can be used to train large number of individuals without displacing them from their work-places. Distance learning provides a useful interface for rapidly developing a specialized pool of doctors practicing and advocating family medicine as most-needed discipline. This motivated CMC Vellore, a premier institution for medical education in India, to start a the "refer less resolve more initiative" by offering "two year family medicine diploma course" by distance mode. This is an innovatively-written program consisting of problem-based self-learning modules, video-lectures, video-conferencing, and face-to-face contact programs. Ten secondary level hospitals, across the country, under the supervision of national and international family medicine faculty form the pillars of this program. This distance learning program offered by CMC Vellore has become the platform for change as there is special focus is on ethics, rational prescribing, consultation skills, application of family medicine principles; and practical demonstration of compassionate, cost-effective and high-quality care. The change in attitude has resulted in transformation in three major aspects of practice: professional, ethical, and patient care. So far, 942 private practitioners and 177 government doctors have been enrolled.

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