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Training your staff for EMR

Training Your Staff for EMR

As I wrote in previous posts, the technical side  of the electronic medical records (EMR) implementation process, namely which EMR system to use, is probably the least critical component.

The most important things are ultimately related to the people side or what is known as ‘change management’. For EMR, this boils down to the implementation plan (which we discussed earlier) and the training plan.

The EMR training plan can be broken down into three steps:

1) Identify current skill levels. Many of your employees are probably recent high school graduates andhave grown up making cell-phone calls, emailing, and texting. These are the people you need to worry the least about.

Older employees, including some physicians, may be less tech-savvy and it is imperative that you determine their computer skills before rolling out your expensive EMR system. Many EMR ‘failures’ are really failures of planning on the part of the practice owners and administration.

So, how do you determine a person’s computer skills? You should probably create a set of basic questions about computer terminology, ask her what programs she has used before and perhaps watch how facile she is with the software.

2) Bring everybody up to necessary skill levels. Determine what core skills will be needed with your new EMR system. Most systems on the market use a graphic interface, so using a mouse is definitely key.

Other core skills would include: Turning a computer on and off, setting a default printer, being familiar with file hierarchies, following password protocols, and logging on and off properly.

Clinical staff will also need to be familiar with the practice management software (EPM), even more than clerical staff will need to be familiar with the EMR system.

3) Design a training plan for the new EMR software. Whoever is in charge of your EMR implementation will need to design a training plan based on the skills the staff have and those they will need to operate the EMR system.

Obviously, everyone in your organization will need to be taught certain basics of the system. Then, use a so-called ‘building blocks’ process, starting with the common tasks that all employees will need to use and then adding on increasingly complex functions, depending on an employee’s particular department or job.

After a general orientation, your technical staff should train some “trainers”, who will train the rest of the staff. These trainers will also be your key clinical lynch pins when the EMR system goes live, not if but when there are problems.

Set up a designated training room or use exam rooms with computers already set up.  If you can spare them, rotate staff through the training process during the day – otherwise, have them train after hours but expect to rack up overtime costs.  It’s also a good idea to have a basic training manual for both the EMR and the EPM systems and distribute it around the practice – sometimes the stress of the go live day can make even the best trained person forget how to log onto the computer.

About Peter Polack

Peter J Polack is founder of emedikon, a medical practice management consulting firm and president of protodrone, a software development company specializing in medical practice applications. A technology columnist for Ophthalmology Management Magazine, he is a managing partner for a large multi-specialty ophthalmology practice in Florida.

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  1. An easy alternative is to outsource your training needs to a training company specializing in EMR training, such as us.

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