ChangeMedEd Initiative

13 free modules offer students insight on health system science

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

With direct patient interaction on hold, medical school has moved from the clinic and the classroom to the computer and the living room. A groundbreaking tool that highlights medical education’s third pillar—health systems science—is serving as an option to help displaced learners grow their skills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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To aid schools and students looking to sharpen their skills during a time of uncertainty, 13 modules in the Health Systems Science Learning Series are available for free via the AMA Ed Hub. Through September, the AMA is offering the added feature of free institutional tracking capability. Schools can select the most pertinent modules to quickly adjust educational practices, local needs, assign them to specific learners and provide students e-learning. The tracking capabilities allows institutions to monitor completion and performance.

All the modules cover key topics in the Health Systems Science domain—the study of how care is delivered on a systems level. The topic that has come into the spotlight during this historic pandemic.

“The American Medical Association is unwavering in its commitment to ensuring the physician workforce—both present and future—is equipped with the skills and education necessary to meet our nation’s rapidly changing health care needs,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA. “The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted medical education for students, residents and educators, and the AMA is working to fill gaps by offering free access to content, tools and resources that will ensure a well-trained physician workforce of the future.”

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Medical education COVID-19 resource guide

Key topics in a time of uncertainty

For the better part of a decade, the AMA and member schools of its Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium have worked to ensure future physicians are well-prepared to effectively deliver care to patients within modern health systems. The online learning offerings give students and schools a portable method to engage in topics that will be vital in the future of care provision.

The 13 free modules are:

  1. How clinical informatics impacts health care delivery

    1. To function optimally, health care systems require data and the insights that can be derived from it. Informatics touches the work of all clinicians, whether they are accessing data in the electronic health record, interacting with decision support tools or analyzing medical images.  
  2. Introducing health care policy and economics

    1. Economic challenges in America’s health systems spurred reforms to the cost of care. Understanding the background on that topic can help clinicians positively impact patient outcomes.
  3. What is health systems science?

    1. A fundamental grasp of health systems science and how it intersects with the basic and clinical sciences is essential for trainees and physicians in the modern environment.
  4. Identifying the fundamentals of medical ethics

    1. Ethics, the law and the fiduciary nature of the patient-physician relationship are thorny issues that clinicians come across nearly daily.
  5. Establishing essential leadership behaviors

    1. As health care systems strive to become high-reliability organizations, they need strong leaders at all levels to deal with the challenges that continually emerge as a result of growing populations, new standards of care, changing government regulations and shifts in access to care. Students should appreciate that they too can be leaders
  6. What are the components of value-based care?

    1. High-value care is about much more than containing costs. It’s also a recipe for improving patient outcomes, safety and satisfaction. But what exactly is it and how is it measured?
  7. What makes team-based care effective?

    1. Health care organizations can dramatically cut the number of deaths from medical errors each year by taking lessons from high-reliability organizations—like those in aviation and the military—that have succeeded in preventing failures.
  8. How systems thinking applies to health care

    1. Practicing medicine today is so much more than the interaction between you and the patient sitting before you. Physicians must critically think about how all moving parts in a system can work together to improve the patient’s health, meet their health care needs and anticipate and mitigate safety threats or other problems.
  9. Recognizing a physician's role in patient safety

    1. From the tangible factors, such as following protocol, to the intangible factors, such as culture, a physician can create a safer clinical environment on numerous levels.
  10. Essentials of quality improvement

    1. Medical students stepping into the clinical setting with fresh eyes that veteran physicians entrenched in the day-to-day delivery of care no longer have may be able to spot potential changes that can improve the quality of care patients receive and make the system more efficient for everyone.
  11. What to know about health care delivery systems

    1. An understanding of the objectives, structures, processes, and outcomes of current health care systems in the United States will give medical students the ability to deftly navigate them when they become practicing physicians.
  12. Understanding and improving population health

    1. The traditional health care delivery model of focusing on the individual patient but not looking at the health of the population  limited impact on communities. Looking at entire patient populations is the future of systems-level care.
  13. What are social determinants of health?

    1. Where your patients were born along with where they work, play and grow older all have a big impact on what their health outcomes will be, with research showing that a person’s overall health is mostly driven by social, economic and environmental factors.

The AMA has curated a selection of resources to assist residents, medical students and faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic to help manage the shifting timelines, cancellations and adjustments to testing, rotations and other events at this time.