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Supporting Medical Students’ Pursuit of Longitudinal Patient Experiences: Piloting an Innovative Visit Notification Tool at the Massachusetts General Hospital

By Shekinah N. Elmore, Kimberly E. Kopecky, Keith Jennings, Marc de Moya, Gene Beresin, and Douglas E. Wright | Academic Medicine | July 23, 2015



Both medical educators and students have an increasing interest in longitudinal patient experiences (LPE) that allow students to work with patients at multiple points in time, often across multiple clinical settings. Despite this interest in LPE, following patients over time and across health systems remains a challenge.


In August 2012–May 2013, with faculty support, two third-year medical students implemented a pilot program at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the third-year block clerkship curriculum. One of the authors modified an existing novel, electronic visit notification tool (VNT) that integrates with the electronic medical record (EMR) to help students follow patients longitudinally. Students added patients to their cohort after obtaining the patient’s verbal consent. Each week, the VNT sent students e-mails notifying them of all scheduled appointments for their cohort patients at all Partners HealthCare–affiliated sites.


Each pilot student added approximately 20 patients to her cohort and followed 3–5 patients consistently. The pilot students felt the VNT made it significantly easier to follow patients over time, their appreciation of chronic illness care developed, and they gained a greater understanding of the integrated nature of patient care.

Next Steps

On the basis of student interest, the tool was made available to all MGH third year students in March–May 2013 and offered to all MGH third-year students at the beginning of the next clinical year. Notification tools such as the VNT may enhance a hospital’s existing EMR and facilitate longitudinal educational goals across all clinical clerkship models.

Read the full article here.