Researchers: EHRs Valuable to Med Students, but Regulation Needed

February 5, 2015 in News

The value of allowing medical students to track patients’ electronic health records outweighs the potential harm, but national guidelines are needed to ensure patient privacy is protected, according to an article published in Academic Medicine, Health Data Management reports (Goth, Health Data Management, 2/4).

Details of Article

In the article, researchers from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine noted that medical students are using EHRs with greater frequency (Snell, Health IT Security, 2/4).

They wrote that the practice of tracking patients with EHRs “allows students to self-educate by auditing their diagnoses to see if they were right.” They added that the process “offers potential to turn any patient interaction into a longitudinal learning experience” in which the students “observe the history of disease in a way not previously possible.”

However, the researchers also said the practice could compromise:

  • Patient autonomy; and
  • Patients’ control over their health information.

As a result, the researchers warned that the practice could make patients reluctant to seek care (Health Data Management, 2/4).


To address such concerns, the researchers argued that it is “critical” for students to obtain patient permission prior to tracking EHRs data. They also highlighted the importance of student training about the responsibility and privilege associated with monitoring EHRs (Health IT Security, 2/4).

In addition, the authors wrote that national guidelines should be developed for medical students who use EHRs to track patients. The researchers intend to develop formal guidelines that could be incorporated into future medical student training (Health Data Management, 2/4).

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