Once they start working, doctors will almost certainly be required to use medical software systems. These largely consist of electronic health records/electronic medical records, and many also incorporate appointment software and medical billing systems. The rise of such systems has been incredibly rapid. In 2001, about 18% of office-based physicians used EMR software. By 2011, that figure had grown to 55%. And by 2013, a full 78% were using some type of electronic system.
But the American Medical Association just acknowledged a major problem in the implementation of these medical software systems: Students often aren’t taught how to use them in medical school.
The Implications of Training on Electronic Record Systems
“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,” AMA Board Member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld said in a news release. This isn’t the first time that the topic of adequate training has come up.
Most of the time, these training initiatives are focused on individual practices or hospitals. This will still need to happen to some extent, as software systems aren’t standardized, and providers will need to be trained on individual systems. But by starting to include training as early as medical school, students can become accustomed to how working electronically changes their habits. It may even help to address some of the noted downsides physicians often complain about when switching to electronic records later in their careers (a survey taken in 2014 of the American College of Physicians member sample, for example, found that family practice doctors spend 48 minutes longer per day on their EMRs).
The AMA’s Recommendations on Medical Software Systems
So how is the AMA recommending the lack of software training in medical school be tackled? The organization will be working with both accrediting bodies and medical schools directly to start having medical students and residents enter information into electronic systems while they interact with patients. The AMA is also working with 11 top medical schools to define the “characteristics of an ideal software system” that could be used in medical schools across the nation.
And, as the AMA release notes, medical students need to know more than how to physically enter data into an electronic record. They also need to be trained on how to use mobile health apps, analytics software, remote monitoring tools and enhanced medical devices as the medical and IT worlds continue to intersect in new ways every single day.
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