Choosing an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system for your practice is a big hurdle.
Reaching a decision likely means that you have spent months researching, talking to colleagues, and testing various systems. In some ways, deciding which system to use is only the beginning. Getting the new EHR system in place and in use is the next big step towards running a more efficient practice with better patient outcomes.
Obstacles to implementation
Many offices and EHR companies have reported that a problem many offices encounter during implementation is that the staff lacks basic computer skills. It may be that your staff needs some basic training before getting into the specifics of a new EHR system. If you have one staff member willing to take the lead, online tutorials in basic computer skills may be the way to go. Most community colleges offer classes that teach the basics of using a computer. Your staff is less likely to resist switching to the new system if they are comfortable using computers and related equipment in general.
Part of your decision regarding which EHR system to purchase probably included the amount and type of support and training you and your staff would receive. Some companies include a certain amount of support, often for a limited time, when you purchase a system. The best training is live, but you may also have access to videos, webinars, or telephone conferences, depending on the system. The most successful training combines methods, so that the staff receives some in person training, has access to videos and/or tutorials, as well as reference materials, and can call when the need arises.
Another issue for some offices is that the training comes well before implementation. In other words, if your staff is trained on how to use the EHR system several weeks before it is all set up, they are likely to forget vital information. It’s important that training and implementation go hand-in-hand, so that everyone in the office has the opportunity to learn by doing.
Tips for EHR training success
One mistake to avoid is providing one-size-fits-all training. Not everyone in the office will use every part of the new EHR system. It doesn’t make sense for everyone to be trained as if they will be using every part of it. In fact, that type of overtraining could lead confusion. It may be helpful for one or two staff members to become familiar and comfortable with every part of the system, but to provide thorough and complete training on specific parts for others. Using that approach insures that a few people in the office will be equipped to help everyone else, but keeps the majority of the staff from feeling overwhelmed.
Finally, speed of transition is a critical part of the process of implementing a new EHR system. While it may seem like a good idea to transition everything quickly and move from your existing system to the new one in the shortest possible time, results have been much better in practices that take a gradual approach. Switching gradually means that you will have two systems running at the same time for a while, but it will give your staff time to get comfortable and to identify best practices.
Investing in a new EHR system is a big decision. Successful implementation of a new system will require the cooperation of the entire staff, but will result in a more streamlined practice as well as better patient care. Thorough training, combined with a gradual transition can help make sure your investment works for your office.