Posted by: Jonena Relth, TBD Consulting, Inc.
I get this question asked to me often and here's my FINAL answer...I'm sticking with it!
You only need customized EMR/EHR training if you want your physicians and clinical staff to be able to do their jobs more efficiently and accurately while integrating the use of the EMR within their workflows.
Bottom Line Answer - Positive ROI and Improved Patient Care:
What I still encounter while visiting with healthcare leaders is that they want to roll out generic training to teach their new systems. Honestly, none of my non-healthcare customers have been doing this for 10+ years, which is why I have to take a deep breath and put on my consulting/coaching hat when this training method comes up in conversation.
Let's assume that your hospital system has 65 hospitals and 200 provider offices that will need to use the EMR/EHR tools you decide to implement. You could spend in the billion range - yes billion $$, before all systems are implemented. Of those costs, the software is just a part. There is the IT customization of the screens to [hopefully] make them track with your users' workflows; the laundry list of new tools/machines to work in conjunction with the EMR/EHR; the aligning of workflows to the MANY user roles to ensure continuity between what they "need to do" and "can do" in the EMR/EHR while doing their jobs.
This Issues with Generic EMR Training:
Healthcare organizations have been merging for years. We see more of this happening as operational costs rise and patients are opting to hold off on non-essential surgical procedures that were good "bread and butter" income for the hospitals. Sorry if I step on toes here: Many healthcare folks are still behind in their computer skills. With paper charting, they simply didn't have the need for computer skills required in non-healthcare environments. So why would leaders even consider providing generic training to clinicians and physicians while at the same time expecting improved patient care, positive ROI and process improvement?
Case in point: A Hospital System's Justification for Providing Generic Training. "It's a training budget issue. Developing customized training is more expensive than using generic training. You can train everyone together on the same generic screens as long as you do the following: Tell everyone that the screens are generic and that their particular screens have been customized for their specific hospitals. If when they get back to work and they are confused how to do the tasks taught in the training on their system, they should ask the super-user assigned to their area to walk them through the screens/process(es) on their system."
Being a "Bottom Line" kinda Gal, here is What goes through My Mind: A budget issue! Do you have any idea of the rework, lost productivity, increased possibility of errors and possible safety and legal implications caused by your "budget issue?" Does anyone actually think that having to "retrain" users on a 1-on-1 basis will save money in the long run?
In your costs are millions of dollars for implementing the infrastructure and tools. Your goals should be to improve the care provided to patients while allowing the EMR/EHR to simplifying the accurate documentation and access to patient data. Well-designed training results in users up-to-speed faster and ensures more accurate and efficient use of the EMR in conjunction with workflows - - which ultimately results in positive ROI.
And, in Case You are Wondering...
- Yes, I do believe that super-users should be readily available to answer questions following a rollout.
- No, I don't advocate paying super-users to act as adjunct trainers on the floor to reteach simple tasks that should have been mastered in training.
- Yes, I think that using super-users to train physicians when it is convenient for them is a positive compromise to physicians sitting in training, but this is a whole new can of worms for another blog!
Here's the Scenario I see in My Trainer's Mind:
I see medical professionals who are unsure about their computer skills and who are trying to learn a new system and a new way of doing their jobs with training that is only partly correct. They are frustrated and a bit angry at having to sit through training that doesn't apply directly to their needs. Add that they are concerned with using a new tool while working an already full schedule once back at work and having the added burden of doing their jobs with "inadequate" knowledge for doing this. Inadequate training and poor change management strategies are sure ways to torpedo a new system's acceptance and use. It's not hard to see why so many medical professionals are less than pleased about the change from paper to electronic charting!
The solution to this training issue isn't rocket science. It's common sense to teach people how to do their jobs with screens and procedures that match what they will use on the job. The added benefits of creating effective training far outweigh any lost productivity, increased errors, potential safety and legal issues, employee/contractor dissatisfaction and potential resistance to using the EMR/EHR system. We educate medical professionals with accurate, detailed, hands-on medical procedures. Why would we offer ineffective training for them to do the rest of their jobs?