Staff training is one of the most critical aspects to successfully implementing and using a new electronic health record
(EHR) system. From physicians to medical assistants to front office staff, everyone who plans to use the new system must
gain a solid understanding of the new EHR’s features and functionality. The first step in this process involves planning.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Information Technology and Quality Improvement web site
outlines a few of the most important factors to consider when developing and implementing an effective training plan. Not
only should training plans include complete instructions on how to use the new system, they should also provide specific
details on which training will be completed before and after the golive date. The plan should also address specific training
requirements for all of your staff’s roles, whether they be healthcare providers, system administrators or “super users” of the
During the planning process, you’’ll also need to determine core competencies for using the system. Assess the basic skills
of your staff so that each user can receive the training resources they need. The Health and Human Services’ web site
suggests the following resource for evaluating staff competencies: Computer Knowledge Evaluation Tool (PDF 77KB).
It’s important to note that physicians and other healthcare providers shouldn’t be treated the same way as office staff during
the training period. Some EHR vendors use web-based training in large group training sessions, but it’s better to conduct
in-person training in small groups.
It’s also wise to create a training database that includes “fake” patient data during the training sessions with which team members can tinker and experiment as they become familiar with the new system.
After formal training has ended, ongoing training should continue at staff members’ actual work stations. This enables staff
to continue working with the system in a location in which they feel most comfortable, and it reinforces the real-world
use of the system that will eventually take place on a continual basis.
Remember, assessing the specific needs of your practice’s staff is key to making sure the training you provide facilitates
complete understanding and appropriate use of the new EHR system. Tackle key planning requirements now, and your
training program will go a long way toward achieving this objective.