Today's medical students are the future of tomorrow's medicine. Studying to earn a medical degree is a feat within itself, let alone trying to study in a field during such a transitional time – a field that is constantly adopting new rules, regulations and methodologies.
Despite the challenges, a recent study revealed just how important medical students believe EHR interoperability to be. According to EHR Intelligence, 96 percent of medical students who took part in the 10th annual Epocrates Future Physicians of America survey believe that the ability to share patient information with team members is crucial to providing optimal patient care.
Until as recently as June, there had been little talk amid electronic health record implementation discussions on how the next generation of students studying to receive medical degrees would adapt to these new measures.
In June 2015, the American Medical Association took a stand and adopted policy that would make certain that practicing medical students are granted access to EHR training. In an effort to transform education in the medical field and properly prepare students for the new generation of healthcare technology, the AMA has focused on encouraging medical institutes and fellowship and residency programs to incorporate a hands-on clinical experience with electronic records. By promoting electronic device training in the exam room and at the bedside, the association hopes to provide students with as much EHR preparation as possible. The end goal is to implement EHR training in the education of all undergraduate 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 press release. "For our future physicians to successfully navigate the 21st century health care system, we must close the gaps that currently exist between how medical students are educated and how health care is delivered now and in the future."
What does this mean for the future?
The timing of the AMA decision and the results of the poll are quite telling. The study polled more than 1,000 medical students on the future of technology, medical school training and industry challenges. According to those students, the No. 1 safety risk to patients today is fragmented care. Forty-four percent do not believe that today's hospitals and practices have the ability to effectively manage and share patient records and 87 percent of respondents would like to see a universal patient record.
So while today's medical students do see the improvement of EHR interoperability as a top concern, they don't have faith in its capabilities just yet. Perhaps now, with the backing of the AMA, medical students will be able to act as valuable instruments in the electronic healthcare transformation. Gaining comprehensive understanding of EHRs during their learning career will be extremely beneficial for their professional career. Entering the medical field with a complete knowledge of EHRs will provide them with the means to further the enhancement of EHR interoperability themselves.