Technology in medical education remains a trending topic, as was recently evidenced at the AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortiumspring meeting. Professors and administrators from the 32 schools in the AMA’s consortium praised the virtues of new tools to enhance online learning while also discussing the glitches that still needed to be ironed out to make such learning go more smoothly.

Irsk Anderson, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, talked of his and his students’ experiences with a pilot program using Yammer, an enterprise-based social media platform. Between the summers of 2014 and 2016, the students were required to make four posts in the style of morning reports and to join four additional conversations each month to discuss other students’ posts.

One part of Yammer’s appeal, said Dr. Anderson, is its Facebook-like user interface, which makes it easy for both students and faculty to navigate. Participants could make posts, comment and reply, attach links and files, and organize conversations by various tags.

But Yammer’s main draw was its security options, said Dr. Anderson. Since students would be sharing patient information, privacy was a top concern. “Even though any kind of documentation used was always deidentified, we wanted to have another level of security within the private user groups,” said Dr. Anderson.

Yammer requires multiple levels of invitations to allow access to discussions, ensuring patient privacy and minimizing the likelihood that patients would be identified through their symptoms.

Dr. Anderson and other participating staff considered the program a success. Feedback evaluations showed that 83 percent of students felt that it enhanced their learning experience and allowed them to communicate valuable information to their peers, while  77 percent said it improved faculty interactions and about half felt that it improved their critical thinking skills.

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