How is health IT used? School investigates competencies

AMA Wire
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Spotlight on Innovation post by two faculty from Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine. William Hersh, MD, is a professor and chair of the school’s department of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology. George Mejicano, MD, is the school of medicine’s senior associate dean for education. Appeared in the August 2014 AMA MedEd Update, a monthly medical education newsletter.

George Mejicano, MD, and William Hersh, MD, both from Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine, talk with Therese Wolpaw, MD, from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine during the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Conference in October 2013.  

At Oregon Health and Science University, we recognize the importance that competence in clinical informatics will play in the success of the 21st century physician. With the ever-expanding knowledgebase of medicine, the growing need for more accountable care and patients’ desires to interact electronically with the health care system the way they interact with other industries, the use of health IT will continue to grow. An additional reason for competence in clinical informatics is the career opportunities provided its designation as a new medical subspecialty, with the first 456 physicians certified in 2013.

With both our medical student curriculum revision process as well as our work with the AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative, we aim to integrate more clinical informatics into our curriculum. As a first step, we established a working group of informatics faculty leaders to develop a set of competencies in clinical informatics. We aimed to go beyond the usual searching and basic EHR skills that increasing numbers of medical schools provide. We also wanted to focus less on the technology and more on the tasks for which health IT will be used.

From the broad competencies, we also developed specific learning objectives and milestones, an implementation schedule, and mapping to general competency domains. After producing this material, we believe there would be value in publishing our work in a peer-reviewed journal. By doing so, we hope that this work, and the resulting curricula, will be evaluated by ourselves and our colleagues. To this end, our published paper recently appeared in Advances in Medical Education and Practice.

We have moved to next steps of implementing this new portion of our medical school curriculum. We are also working to define the optimal relationship between 21st century physicians and the data they and others generate about their patients and their practice.

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