Written by Joanna Hughes

Electronic health records (EHR) promise to transform the healthcare system. However, they’re only as effective as the degree to which they’re utilized by humans. Medical students, in particular, have been identified as falling short when it comes to navigating EHR platforms, which is interfering with their ability to maximize their potential. As a result, the American Medical Association (AMA) is calling for residency programs to incorporate more EHR training.

A Focus on Fluency

Said AMA Board Member and medical student Karthik V. Sarma, “Unfortunately, despite a growing awareness within the medical education community that medical students and residents need to learn how to ensure quality clinical documentation within an electronic health record, some institutions continue to restrict access to the EHR due to a variety of concerns.”

To that end, the AMA House of Delegates recently adopted a new policy addressing EHRs within med schools and residency programs. Specific areas designated for improvement include designing clinical documentation which provides feedback regarding the effectiveness of training; providing clinical documentation and EHR training that can be demonstrated as useful in clinical practice; and providing WHR professional development resources for faculty aimed at helping them model best practices for EHR use during physician/patient interactions.

Practice Makes Perfect

Obviously, EHRs on their own aren’t enough. They must also be put to best use in clinical settings, which is where resident training enters the picture.

Continued Sarma, “There is a clear need for medical students to have access to -- and learn how to properly use -- EHRs well before they enter practice. That’s why, even as we continue to work to improve EHR usability for all physicians and physicians-in-training, we’ve been working over the last five years with medical schools across the country to ensure our future physicians are better equipped to provide care in a practice environment of rapid progress, new technology, and changing expectations both from government and society—directly impacting the way health care is delivered nationwide.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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