Five Best Practices for EHR Training
Editor's note: This blog was written by Amanda Guerrero, who originally contributed this piece to Software Advice. Amanda is a writer and blogger specializing in EHR, patient portal technology and Meaningful Use. From her years working as a file clerk at a doctor's office to her time as an implementation manager at an EHR company, Amanda has witnessed the evolution of the healthcare industry's charting system firsthand.
Let's face it: electronic health record (EHR) implementation is a challenge. But it doesn't have to be something your practice dreads. With effective training, your staff can avoid the setbacks many practices encounter. Here are five best practices for training your staff to ensure a smooth EHR implementation.
1. Identify Computer Proficiency Levels and Provide Training.
Determine whether any of your employees need basic computer training in order to be comfortable operating in an electronic environment. You can do this by using assessment online resources - some are free, others are paid, and others even let you create your own test.
If you identify employees in need of training, you'll need to get them up to speed. You could pay for classes at a community college or pay an instructor to visit your office. Alternatively, if budget is an issue, you could take advantage of a free online resource.
2. Select "Super Users" to Help Train Staff.
Identify one or two tech-savvy individuals in your practice who will learn the EHR backwards and forwards to serve as go-to people for EHR questions. These individuals should be highly computer literate, excited about learning new concepts, and willing to help teach others.
Look for someone who's been with your practice at least a year, and who isn't already over-burdened at work - this person will likely be answering a lot of questions for the first few months. Consider offering an incentive (such as extra vacation time or a small bonus) to encourage skilled employees to step forward for this added responsibility.
3. Tailor Training to Each Employee's Role.
Don't make the mistake of thinking every employee needs to learn every function of the EHR. For example, billing employees will need to learn how to submit electronic claims, but not how to view test results or enter a diagnosis.
Avoid confusion among your employees - and save their time - by training them only on areas they'll need to use regularly. This will help get your staff up to speed more quickly.
4. Regularly Gather Feedback After Implementation.
The process isn't over as soon as your EHR is live. Once you begin using the system, you'll likely encounter some snags - some function that isn't clear to you, or a workflow process that isn't efficient. Identifying these issues quickly is important to avoid mistakes.
Conduct regular feedback sessions, and include individuals from across your practice so that every type of user is represented (nurses, physicians, billing, administrative, etc.). When issues are raised, prioritize them by determining how they impact patient care. For example, knowing how to properly enter vitals will be a more immediate priority than redesigning an inefficient workflow process.
Don't try to fix everything at once. Attack issues one at a time, starting with the most urgent.
5. Make Use of Your Vendor's Online Resources.
EHR vendors usually provide learning and training materials online. Take advantage of those resources if questions arise that your "super users" can't answer. You'll also likely find discussion forums, which are often tied to vendors' websites, where you can engage with other EHR users about how they're using the software.
EHR implementation takes time, but employing the best practices provided here will help your practice get operational more quickly while avoiding common headaches. That way you can focus on what matters most: providing quality care to your patients.