PROBLEM: How can physicians incorporate the electronic health record (EHR) into clinical practice in a relationship-enhancing fashion ("EHR ergonomics")? APPROACH: Three convenience samples of 40 second-year medical students with varying levels of EHR ergonomic training were compared in the 2012 spring semester. All participants first received basic EHR training and completed a presurvey. Two study groups were then instructed to use the EHR during the standardized patient (SP) encounter in each of four regularly scheduled Doctoring (clinical skills) course sessions. One group received additional ergonomic training in each session. Ergonomic assessment data were collected from students, faculty, and SPs in each session. A postsurvey was administered to all students, and data were compared across all three groups to assess the impact of EHR use and ergonomic training. OUTCOMES: There was a significant positive effect of EHR ergonomics skills training on students' relationship-centered EHR use (P < .005). Students who received training reported that they were able to use the EHR to engage with patients more effectively, better articulate the benefits of using the EHR, better address patient concerns, more appropriately position the EHR device, and more effectively integrate the EHR into patient encounters. Additionally, students' self-assessments were strongly corroborated by SP and faculty assessments. A minimum of three ergonomic training sessions were needed to see an overall improvement in EHR use. NEXT STEPS: In addition to replication of these results, further effectiveness studies of this educational intervention need to be carried out in GME, practice, and other environments.
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