Background Most otoscopy images used for teaching are taken using an endoscope which has a wide field of view enabling the entire tympanic membrane can be visualised. However, in practice, the view from the otoscope is limited. Therefore to visualise all aspects of the tympanic membrane the otoscope must be carefully manipulated, making diagnosis considerably more challenging. Several otoscopy models have been developed to simulate this experience but their costs and size can limit their accessibility.
Description The smartphone application simulates the experience of looking through an otoscope by limiting the field of view, and utilises the phones gyroscope to manoeuvre the field of view when the phone is rotated. We ran a series of teaching sessions for medical students using the smartphone app and assessed its effectiveness using a questionnaire completed after the session.
Improvements/outcomes We received 15 completed questionnaire responses from Year 3 medical students. The questionnaire revealed that 80% of students felt confident or very confident after using the app to diagnose simple conditions, and 93% of students rated their learning as better with the app then their previous experiences learning otoscopy. Previous experiences included practicing other students and using plastic models in a clinical skills lab.
Take home messages Students felt more confident in diagnosing simple ear conditions after using the app and the vast majority felt that this was better than their previous experiences learning otoscopy. The use of the app is only limited to those with a smartphone which improves accessibility over ear models used in clinical skills labs. A limitation of the app is that it does not teach the physical skill of using an otoscope. Further research could determine whether using the app in combination with simple physical models could enhance the realism.
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