Med students not getting enough EHR face time

The conventional wisdom is that younger healthcare providers are more comfortable with health IT than their elders.

But a new survey suggests that while they may be comfortable with technology, not enough aspiring doctors are getting hands-on experience with EHRs.

According to the American Medical Association, a survey conducted by the Alliance for Clinical Education shows that “64 percent of medical schools allow students to use EHRs, and two-thirds of those allow students to make notes in the records.”

Frankly, given the onslaught of EHRs in recent years, we’re surprised those numbers aren’t higher. Apparently, though, “schools face multiple challenges in trying to integrate EHRs into their curricula, such as billing issues and limitations within the systems that make them [non-conducive] for educational purposes.”

Another problem, it seems, is that even those students that are getting access are finding their time limited. The article notes that the Alliance, a multidisciplinary group of medical educators aimed at enhancing clinical training for future physicians, “has developed guidelines on implementing EHR instruction that were published in conjunction with the study. The group’s recommendations include giving students the chance to do order entry for real or simulated patients, exposing students to the decision aids that are built into many EHR systems, and giving students the chance to make notes in a patient’s chart.”

Obviously, this is great as far as it goes, but it seems there may be place for the feds to get involved, too. After all, HITECH committed resources to educating the next generation of health IT workers, but while educating support staff is obviously critical, equally important, it would seem, is making sure new doctors themselves are leaving med school prepared to gather information using the most up-to-date tools available.

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