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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31826e319b
Letters to the Editor

Electronic Health Records: Can We Maximize Their Benefits and Minimize Their Risks?

Lown, Beth A. MD; Rodriguez, Dayron MD, MPH

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Associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, medical director, Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, and director of faculty development and fellowships in medical education, Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts; blown@mah.harvard.edu.

Urology resident, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

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In Reply to Ventres:

We appreciate Dr. Ventres’ support of our suggestions to integrate electronic health records (EHRs) into medical education and training. Although today’s medical students are technologically savvy, many still struggle to optimize patient–doctor communication while integrating EHRs into a clinical setting. This is why we feel it’s particularly important to create and evaluate curricula to teach communication strategies that enable learners to integrate EHRs into patient encounters in ways that foster relationships and effective communication. Dr. Ventres’ own superb research brings many of these suggestions and questions into focus.

With regard to his question about whether the vendors of EHRs have any responsibility to train physicians how best to use their products, however, we would reply that it should be the other way around. Vendors should work with physicians, members of their support staff, and patients to shape the design of EHRs in ways that do not disrupt patient–doctor interactions but instead allow physicians to include the patient’s narrative and their clinical reasoning in place of prefabricated templates.

Beth A. Lown, MD

Associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, medical director, Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, and director of faculty development and fellowships in medical education, Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts; blown@mah.harvard.edu.

Dayron Rodriguez, MD, MPH

Urology resident, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

© 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges

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