Newsflash: Your EHR training responsibilities didn’t end with the implementation you did a few years ago. If your eye care practice is growing (and hopefully it is), you’ll likely be hiring new employees and maybe even new physicians. And though some of those new staff members will come with prior EHR experience, they’ll still need to learn your specific system. Unlike the original implementation—when you likely had vendor representatives helping you with EHR training—this time, you’re on your own.
Educating staff on your EHR is one of the most challenging parts of successful software adoption and use. But that doesn’t mean you can just ignore it and hope for the best. Your new staff members need and deserve the same level of in-depth EHR training that your current staff received when the system was new. Keep reading for expert guidance on how to bring new staff up to speed, overcome staff resistance, and maintain consistent education without disrupting office flow.
Before You Begin EHR Training
First, determine who will conduct EHR education. Usually this task falls to the practice manager, but don’t neglect other potential helpers. Eye Care Leaders EHR training and education expert Tammi Sloan recommends that practices assign “super users.” These are current EHR-friendly staff members who are tech-savvy and can “drive the learning process for the whole practice,” she explains.
Super users are an ideal choice for a new employee to shadow for a day, so the new employee can see firsthand what tasks are accomplished in the EHR and at what point in the workflow. Later, the super user can ‘reverse shadow’ the new employee, pointing out potential issues and time-saving tips as the new employee works. “Super users will make the ophthalmic team feel more confident and less stressed,” Sloan adds.
Finally, start with the end in mind. One of the biggest obstacles in successful EHR education is staff behavior, Sloan reports. New staff may not feel confident using the software for their specific role in the practice, so take the time to set expectations prior to endeavoring on education. “Before participating in a learning event, provide new staffers with a thorough understanding of what they are expected to learn, how their behavior is expected to change, the results they are expected to achieve, and how these results contribute to the overall goals of the organization,” she advises.
Timing is Important
Finding the time to conduct EHR training sessions while juggling the day-to-day tasks is a challenge for everyone involved. Don’t forget to consider how the supervision of training a new employee will impact your current employees’ workflow. Will you hire a temp to cover the extra work? Redistribute responsibilities among current staff members? Consider how you’ll provide extra coverage, or you may face a loss in productivity.
Additionally, Sloan recommends that you incentivize your staff for taking the time to participate in learning events. She says, “Have a specific way to call attention to and reward training efforts of your team.” One way is to provide a “lunch and learn” and treat your staff to a meal while they tackle training. Just be sure to set up training workstations in an area away from patients, avoid serving “messy” items, and keep lids on all drinks.
EHR Training Requires Patience
Another big challenge of educating staff on an EHR? Staff members who resist using it. Some employees who have worked in a practice for years may prefer their own way of doing things because “that’s how it’s always been done.” But that argument only stagnates your revenue. It also makes regulatory compliance much more difficult than it needs to be.
Consider whether a resistant employee’s general computer skills may be lacking. Low computer literacy can deter otherwise good employees from learning the system. Why? They don’t want to be viewed as “failing.” They may just need some basic computer skills training to get on board with more advanced EHR education. And remember that “training is not an event, where we attend a workshop one day and expect the desired behavior to take place the next day,” says Sloan.
5 Essential EHR Training Tips
Sloan recommends five additional ways to engage practice staff in EHR education:
- Role Play: Have a “Friends and Family EHR Exam Day” for new employees. Invite friends and family of staff to come into the practice and act as patients. This will allow the new staff members to work through their first “real” exams without feeling as much pressure.
- Training by Department: Not everyone needs to know everything about the system. Role-specific training will be much more engaging to your learners.
- Saturday Boot Camp: Finding time to train a new physician can be especially challenging. Holding a Saturday Boot Camp will allow you to have their full attention. Be sure to provide plenty of food and take regular breaks.
- Question of the Day: Once staff members have had basic education, send a “Question of the Day” via your intranet or email. Award Starbucks or gas gift cards to the person with the first correct answer.
- Backfilling Charts: The best way to learn something is by repeatedly doing it. Make sure that you involve all staff members to backfile actual sample charts. This will also decrease the amount of time involved in documenting the patient history on the day of the visit.