T. Mehigan1, A. Joy1, P. Cantillon-Murphy1, L. Burgoyne1, C. Murphy2, X. Canals-Riera2, E. Marsa2, R. Cosgrave3, G.H. van Lenthe4, S. O'Flynn1, G. Shorten1, C. O'Tuathaigh1

1University College Cork (IRELAND)
2Tecno-med Ingenieros (SPAIN)
3Learnlode (IRELAND)
4Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (BELGIUM)
“Medinvent” [] is an EU-funded international project which offers to physicians and engineers a common e-learning tool, with interdisciplinary approaches, to try to close the gap between engineering and medicine. This project aims to improve healthcare by ensuring that patient-oriented medical device design solutions are more quickly and effectively translated from 'bench to bedside'. While teaching and learning can be enhanced by online delivery, it is crucial to ascertain the discipline-specific usefulness of new technologies. A structured questionnaire was distributed to engineering and medical schools within higher education institutions (HEIs) across the EU, as well as research-oriented small-and-medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) in the EU medical devices sector. This survey focused on the form and content of e-learning online modules, specifically, as a means of teaching skills in biomedical device design and innovation. HEI and SME attitudes and perceptions were assessed in relation to following areas: online e-learning tool capabilities, curriculum design, and instructional methods.

330 respondents completed the survey, of which 34% had previously completed an online course. When asked to rank the seventeen most important features for inclusion in a successful e-learning platform, the top five factors were as follows: learning content/material, clear learning objectives, flexibility/adaptability, feedback, and student assessment. The lowest ranked five features were the following: access to external platforms, personalisation features, access via mobile devices, virtual environment, and communication and cooperation capacity. When asked to rank features based on practicality of inclusion in an e-learning environment, theoretical content and practical demonstration of concepts were ranked highest. In contrast, collaborative group interaction and collaborative project implementation were ranked as the most difficult features to include in a platform. Among the factors considered advantages of e-learning, self-paced learning and ubiquitous learning were rated as the most important among all respondents.

84% of respondents agreed that e-learning was suitable for group-based medical device design projects for health sciences and engineering students. The following features were ranked (high to low) in order of ease of inclusion in a collaborative medical device e-learning platform: instruction and discussion of case studies; access regular talks by guest speakers; group-based multidisciplinary design projects and student interaction; formal and informal communication tools in e-learning; introduction of structured design methods; introduction of unstructured design methods. When asked to specify learning outcomes which can practicably be achieved for medical device design via e-learning, the five highest ranked outcomes were the following: describe patient safety and risk management; define design problem; technical standards for medical devices; ability to conduct needs analysis; analyse design problem. The lowest ranked five features were the following: servicing of medical devices, facilitate new constraints; evaluate the idea; clinical evaluation and investigation; introduce IP and patents. Results are discussed in relation to generation of design guidelines for the development of a collaborative interdisciplinary medical device e-learning platform.