Doctors from across the globe are getting specialty medical training via a studio tucked inside Akron Children’s Hospital.
Thousands of physicians worldwide have participated in web-based continuing medical education conferences offered by GlobalCastMD.
Dr. Todd Ponsky, a pediatric surgeon who joined the staff of Children’s last year, is co-founder of GlobalCastMD, which offers low-cost, virtual medical conferences to physicians throughout the United States and internationally.
On Thursday, about 1,200 doctors logged onto a secure website to watch Ponsky and leading experts from as far away as England and France share updates about treating childhood traumas.
Participants were able to chat with each other and ask questions of the experts while watching the five-hour virtual conference.
“People can call in and talk to these key opinion leaders and see like they’re there,” Ponsky said.
The webinar concept is a “quick and efficient” way to provide doctors worldwide with details about the latest approaches to treating patients, said Dr. Wayne Meredith, chair of the Department of Surgery at Wake Forest University and executive director of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. The nonprofit institute — which co-sponsored Thursday’s conference — raises awareness, supports research and provides education about pediatric injuries worldwide.
Immediately after a similar conference last year, Meredith said, he heard back from a participant who said he learned techniques that saved a child’s life.
“The benefits of this could be huge,” he said.
Ponsky started the venture with fellow physician and lifelong friend Dr. Marc Schwachter about four years ago when he was working in Cleveland.
Doctors are required to earn continuing medical education credits to maintain their license to practice medicine.
But Ponsky noticed fewer physicians were able to break away from their busy practices and schedules to attend in-person medical conferences. So instead, he decided to bring the education to the doctors via live, interactive video conferences.
GlobalCastMD usually charges $99 per virtual conference — an amount that Ponsky said is substantially less than the typical $600 to $700 registration fee for most onsite medical conferences.
Participants in the web-based conferences also save travel expenses and don’t miss valuable days in the office or operating room, he said. Surgeons lose an estimated $3,000 in revenue for each day they’re off the job.
“It really is a huge cost-savings,” he said. “That’s why it becomes so popular.”
Dr. Fayza Haider, a pediatric surgeon at Salmaniya Medical Complex in Bahrain, has participated in 19 virtual conferences organized by Ponsky on topics ranging from urologic surgery to adolescent obesity.
In an email interview, Haider said the GlobalCastMD conferences let her learn about medical advances without traveling — or changing out of her PJs.
Through her participation, she said, she has learned surgical techniques that she has been able to use on her patients in Bahrain.
“It gives me a chance to discuss live with the experts and interact with other attendees from all around the world,” she said.
GlobalCastMD relies on hospitals and other sponsors to help pay for the costs of running the virtual conferences. Since Ponsky joined Children’s, the pediatric hospital has been co-sponsoring many of the events by providing its studio, equipment and technical support.
The company isn’t making money yet, but Ponsky said that’s not the real goal.
“We’re advancing the speed of bringing new technologies to patient care,” he said.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.