According to Center for Health Information Technology director Dr. Jason Mitchell, EHR training is a crucial element in successful electronic health record implementation in any medical practice. Dr. Mitchell says lack of training can cause production decreases that take months or years to overcome. Luckily, you don't have to master a radical training approach to improve successful EHR implementation.
1. Start with Staff Input
Dr. Tana Goering says the best EHR training begins by involving clinical staff, such as doctors and nurses, in system selection. Clinical staff are the main users of an EHR system, so are more likely to offer realistic, day-to-day needs than executive or technical staff. Medical practices should also include input from administrative staff who will enter information or use EHR data to bill claims. Don't stop staff input at the selection process—individual staff members are likely to have valuable input on how the office can best learn to work with new software.
2. Create Office- and Software-Centric Training
Vendors often offer high-level training for EHR software, but tying training to specific needs and policies in your office helps reduce troubleshooting and errors when the system goes live. Training that involves real-life practice scenarios reduces the risk of unintended consequences of EHR implementation.
3. Take Stock of Staff Computer Skills
Before embarking on EHR software training, understand the level of computer skills both clinical and administrative staff bring to the table. It's unlikely staff today will be completely new to computers, but shortcut keys, voice-recognition, and navigating multiple screens are some specific skills employees will need to be successful with EHR systems. Include enough time in training to cover necessary skills as well as specifics of the new software.
4. Schedule Training Appropriately
One of the biggest EHR training mistakes medical practices make is hosting training sessions weeks or months before the new system goes live. Technical processes require repeated hands-on activity before they become instinct for staff, so if there are more than a few days between intense training and daily use, staff won't retain the information. Training too far ahead of the go live doesn't just impact EHR implementation success -- it also wastes valuable resources.
5. Prepare for On-the-Job Learning
You'll never cover every situation in a training environment, and staff members can't memorize every function of an EHR in a few hours. Teach the most common functions in depth in a training environment and provide instructions and ongoing support as staff integrates the EHR into their day. Heather Haugen, vice president of IT and development at The Breakaway Group, says most EHRs can go live once staff understand key functionality.
6. Create Custom Training Sessions
Reduce learning overload by customizing training sessions for specific functions. Clinical staff don't need to know how to check patients into the office right away, and billing staff doesn't need to learn how to enter nurse or doctor notes. Cross training may be valuable later, but keeping initial learning to specific needs ensure staff are able to hit the ground running when the electronic health record goes live.
To reduce the resource requirements for custom training, consider online or computer-based supplement training. Offices can provide classroom or hands-on training to the entire staff to introduce the software and teach high-level functions. Staff members in each department can take computer-based training from their desk or office to learn about EHR procedures that are specific to their work.
RevenueXL provides award-winning EHR Software which is integrated with Practice Management Software for small and mid-sized practices. It is pre-configured for 30+ specialties. Ask for free trial after the demo.