At its annual meeting on Monday, the American Medical Association adopted a new policy to provide medical students with “hands-on” experience with electronic health records to improve patient care and increase the accuracy of clinical communications.

Specifically, AMA’s policy recommends that medical students—with appropriate supervision—learn as part of their education how to document patient encounters and enter clinical orders into patients' EHRs. Towards that end, AMA has committed to working with medical school accreditation bodies to support U.S. medical schools, as well as residency and fellowship training programs, in teaching students how to use electronic devices in the examination room and at the hospital bedside.

The new policy calls for “determining the characteristics of an ideal software system” for teaching EHRs to students that could be used at medical schools and teaching hospitals.

Also See: Northwestern to Create EHR Guidelines for Medical Students

“There is a clear need for medical students today to have access to and learn how to properly use electronic health records well before they enter practice," said AMA Board Member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., in a written statement “For our future physicians to successfully navigate the 21st century healthcare system, we must close the gaps that currently exist between how medical students are educated and how healthcare is delivered now and in the future.”

According to the physician group, the “constrained structure” of traditional courses at medical schools “has not allowed for appropriate change to keep pace with today's needs.” The AMA envisions medical schools of the future adapting to “rapid change in technology, in dissemination of information and data, in personalized genetics and in care delivery.”

Under its “Accelerating Change in Medical Education” initiative, AMA is working with a consortium of 11 medical schools to develop education models that incorporate EHR training into the curriculum. For its part, the Indiana University School of Medicine is creating a virtual healthcare system and a teaching EHR that uses de-identified real patient data to ensure competencies in system-, team- and population-based healthcare, as well as clinical decision-making.

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