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Electronic health records in outpatient clinics: Perspectives of third year medical students

Author(s): Rouf Emran | Chumley Heidi | Dobbie Alison

Journal: BMC Medical Education
ISSN 1472-6920

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 13;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background United States academic medical centers are increasingly incorporating electronic health records (EHR) into teaching settings. We report third year medical students' attitudes towards clinical learning using the electronic health record in ambulatory primary care clinics. Methods In academic year 2005–06, 60 third year students were invited to complete a questionnaire after finishing the required Ambulatory Medicine/Family Medicine clerkship. The authors elicited themes for the questionnaire by asking a focus group of third year students how using the EHR had impacted their learning. Five themes emerged: organization of information, access to online resources, prompts from the EHR, personal performance (charting and presenting), and communication with patients and preceptors. The authors added a sixth theme: impact on student and patient follow-up. The authors created a 21-item questionnaire, based on these themes that used a 5-point Likert scale from "Strongly Agree" to "Strongly Disagree". The authors emailed an electronic survey link to each consenting student immediately following their clerkship experience in Ambulatory Medicine/Family Medicine. Results 33 of 53 consenting students (62%) returned completed questionnaires. Most students liked the EHR's ability to organize information, with 70% of students responding that essential information was easier to find electronically. Only 36% and 33% of students reported accessing online patient information or clinical guidelines more often when using the EHR than when using paper charts. Most students (72%) reported asking more history questions due to EHR prompts, and 39% ordered more clinical preventive services. Most students (69%) reported that the EHR improved their documentation. 39% of students responded that they received more feedback on their EHR notes compared to paper chart notes. Only 64% of students were satisfied with the doctor-patient communication with the EHR, and 48% stated they spent less time looking at the patient. Conclusion Third year medical students reported generally positive attitudes towards using the EHR in the ambulatory setting. They reported receiving more feedback on their electronic charts than on paper charts. However, students reported significant concerns about the potential impact of the EHR on their ability to conduct the doctor-patient encounter.
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