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EHR Training: Avoiding Problems That Can Affect A Medical Practice

Written by Kaitlyn Houseman | June 6, 2012

EHRs can improve your practice’s efficiency, patient outcomes, and physician productivity. But if you don’t train practice staff and providers correctly, none of these benefits will be realized. 

That was the message espoused in a recent interview with physician Andres Jimenez, CEO of ImplementHIT, published by Becker’s Hospital Review. Though the article was geared mainly toward EHR training practices for the hospital setting, most of what Jimenez said is applicable to the medical-practice setting.

“One of the basic tenets of education is that individuals, especially adult learners, must find training immediately relevant need to be engaged in learning in order to retain information,” Jimenez told Becker’s. “With physicians, if the information is not relevant, it is not only harder for the individuals to learn, it will often completely disrupt learning, which reduces engagement and any possibility of meaningful learning from that point forward.”

To supplement Jimenez’s advice laid out in this piece, we asked healthcare consultants who work with practices on what some of the biggest problems are when it comes to EHR training. As a bonus, they offered a few easy-to-follow solutions.

Healthcare consultant Ron Cline of Quorum Health Resources said there are two distinct problems in the EHR implementation process, the first of which is lack of customization for individuals using a particular system.

“EHR groups are training people with and without any significant relevant education,” Cline told Physicians Practice. “It’s also a static environment that trains to their EHR model versus the actual medical practice.”

Secondly, medical groups have a false expectation that the vendor is going to provide all the answers in the training environment. 

“Being responsible for learning the tools is the sole responsibility of the users,” said Cline. “Any expectation otherwise is the first step to a very ugly EHR encounter.”

Healthcare technology consultant Bruce Kleaveland told Physicians Practice that it is unrealistic for practices to expect users to fully understand complex, EHR applications after just a day of training.

“It should be thought of an ongoing process, allowing users to increase their level of knowledge as they increase their practical experience with the software,” he said, adding that a practice should develop an internal EHR training expert that will be able to serve as a resource for staff. “This individual can help with ad hoc questions that will inevitably come up and can also conduct ongoing group training sessions.”

Healthcare consultant Laurie Morgan of Capko & Co. suggested practices take advantage of their “cyclicality” when planning training activities.

“Getting started during a lower-volume period can make rushing less necessary,” Morgan told Physicians Practice. “And, in a multi-physician practice, focusing on one doctor at a time can allow more time for and customization of training.”

Morgan said she liked Jimenez’s idea of customizing the training for the physician and his or her specialty. 

“Focusing on the most common activities, as he suggested, will help physicians adapt more quickly,” said Morgan. “The same idea applies to some of the more advanced features needed for meaningful use.  Things like automating patient-specific education and preventive care reminders actually help doctors and show a clear benefit to going through the pain of learning and shifting to an EHR. These tools could save their practices work over the long run and allow physicians to stay in contact with patients more easily and personalize their care.”

By Marisa Torrieri

Physicians Practice | June 1, 2012