EHR education increasingly relevant

November 25th, 2014

Electronic health records aren't the easiest tools to understand at first. This is not the fault of the programs themselves, which are constantly improving and becoming more user friendly – it's really an education issue. This is the argument put forward by EHR Intelligence, which reported that as EHR becomes more mainstream, medical students need to learn how to use them properly. Most people receive very little help when it comes to figuring out how to do even simple things. As a result, when students come into the hospital or the dental clinic to begin working, they are held back from a certain degree of progress. It is harmful for a dentist's career if he or she doesn't know how to use dental enterprise software. That is why it is so crucial to teach it in schools.

An open letter by Association of Departments of Family Medicine explained that businesses like dental schools need to catch up and work harder to teach their students.

"EHR systems have the potential to enhance quality and safety, but there is a risk that medical students are entering residencies without adequate preparation to fully and effectively use this important instrument," the letter said. "Future physicians must learn skills to enhance relationships while using the EHR in modern clinical practices."

This goes for oral hygienists as well as dentists.

Training varies from school to school
One of the reasons that the ADFM is so concerned about students living in ignorance of how to operate dental enterprise software is that it is so easy to accidentally misuse it by sending out the wrong information or leaving something unencrypted. This can lead to hacks, which puts patient data in jeopardy. It could also result in a serious problem, such as entering the wrong blood type on accident or releasing badly written medical codes to insurance agencies and billing companies, which would result in delayed or incorrect payments.

"To fully prepare medical school graduates to assume roles of increasing responsibility and leadership in modern health care systems requires competence in patient-centered EHR use," the letter concludes.

In other words, preparing students for their role as dentists and oral hygiene practitioners requires a mastery of dental enterprise software. It's up to every college and medical school to provide this experience to students. Their future careers depend on it.

One college is taking a direct approach
Another EHR intelligent story points to one college that is taking a big step to bring EHR and other digital tools into the mainstream of education. The University of Connecticut is going digital – classes are becoming interactive, and much of the information being put forward to study is through digital means, so that class time is spent on activities.

"Medicine is changing, and so are learning methods," said Dr. Thiruchandurai V. Rajan, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UConn.

This means that dental and oral hygiene academic software also has a place in the classroom. Students who learn better on computers can use tools like smartphones and tablets. The educational process is moving from a book-based approach to an experience on the digital cloud, meaning students can study and learn anywhere they choose. This frees up the lecture halls for interactive sessions with the professor that could be much more useful than listening to someone talking for 90 minutes and then doing homework.

This is called a flipped classroom. It means that students do the lecture work at home, and go to class to do the homework with the professor. Through these means, class time becomes fun and students are more likely to attend.

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