Medical students typically spend two years studying anatomy, histology, pathology and other basic sciences. Then they spend two more years running through hospital corridors, doing clinical rotations through a dozen or so specialties.
That’s four years with books, lectures, labs and patient rooms.
So when do they learn how the modern health system actually works, from federal health policy to clinical data collection?
Traditionally, it’s been hit or miss. But for some medical students, that’s about to change.
The American Medical Association has expanded the traditional curriculum to help students and physicians learn about the flurry of changes in the health care environment. So, in addition to basic and clinical sciences, students will learn “health system sciences,” a broad term encompassing government policy, health care economics, population health, quality improvement, patient safety and other topics.
The local tie-in: the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute are collaborating with the AMA to increase training in medical schools of electronic health records, the system of patient and population health information that can be shared across the health system.
The AMA calls it a “first-of-its-kind platform” that will help medical student learn how to navigate records, document patient visits and place orders.
The system will use real and de-identified patient data from Indianapolis-based Eskenazi Health. The goal is to get students fluent in electronic health records, or EHRs, which they will need to use every day, all day long, as physicians.
“Our medical schools are very good at preparing students for the basic and clinical sciences that are essential to providing patient care,” said Dr. Susan Skochelak, the AMA’s vice president for medical education. “Too often, students enter residency training without the ability to effectively and efficiently work with EHRs, even though they are one of the primary tools physicians use in everyday practice.”
Four years ago, the IU School of Medicine received a $1 million grant to work with the Regenstrief Institute to develop a way to incorporate training on EHRs into its curriculum, so it could be implemented by other medical schools.
Now, after a year of use by IU medical students, the program—known as the Regenstrief EHR Clinical Learning Platform is ready for widespread adoption, the AMA said.
The curriculum has already been adopted by several schools, including the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and the University of Southern Indiana School of Nursing.
It will soon be implemented in three other schools: Thomas Jefferson University’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College, the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the University of Idaho Medical Education Program.