Medical school students are using electronic health records at a higher rate than practicing physicians, but education is lacking. Without guidelines, physicians face significant roadblocks to adoption, according to two companion studies published in Teaching and Learning in Medicine.
In the first study, researchers from the Alliance for Clinical Education found that 64 percent of the medical school programs allowed students to use their EHRs, but only two thirds of those allowed the students to write notes in them. They were further stymied by the mechanics involved in the use of EHRs.
"Previously, students were just able to pick up a physical patient chart. Now they need permission to use hospital computers and passwords to access the EHR. There also are concerns surrounding Medicare rules about physicians using trainees' findings in the [EHR]," lead author Maya Hammoud, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University Michigan Medical School said in a statement.
In a related study, the Alliance, which works to enhance the education of medical students, expressed concern that limitations on medical student training in EHRs will adversely affect their overall education. The organization proposed that medical schools follow practice guidelines in training students to use EHRs, including required documentation in the systems, review of their notes, the opportunity to practice order entry in an EHR, exposure to clinical decision support tools, and development of competences related to EHR charting.
Inadequate EHR training has long been a barrier to successful EHR adoption, overwhelming and frustrating clinicians. Enhanced training of medical students in EHRs as a part of their medical school education would likely improve their competence and acceptance of EHR use as a tool.