When is the last time you or your staff learned something new about your EHR system?
This question has a drastic impact on how well you are using the EHR you have put so much time and money into. There is no better way to optimize than to make sure everyone knows how to use the system well. You can add in all the fancy shortcuts and macros you want but if people don’t know how to use them these features will not benefit the practice. If we aren’t continuing to build on the knowledge that we have then things become static and cannot improve. I like to use the CEUs that we must complete to keep up our medical licenses up to date. We also need to have periodic “CEUs” of our EHR system so that we are growing with the system instead of it weighing us down.
It often occurs that once a user has been trained on a system they do not receive any additional training unless there is some major change within the application they are using. It is not possible to know everything about a system when you first learn how to use it. Implementing a few very small changes in your training concepts could allow users to have access to much-needed shortcuts that they aren’t even aware exist in the system. Here are a few suggestions for getting information to your workforce.
How Do You Communicate Useful Information?
- Incorporate “Did You Know” topics into your employee newsletter
- Hold 1-2 Minute demonstrations during employee meetings
- Distribute a shortcut each week to employees via company email
- Develop a super user group to provide peer to peer training
Now that you have some ideas of how to distribute information to the users, what is the important information for them to have?
What does Staff Know Already?
The first thing we need to know is “What do the users know already?” We need to get an understanding of what portions of the system they are most familiar with and those they are not using. Once you have this information you can begin to develop the teaching topics that you feel would be most beneficial to the users.
Using a survey process is a good subjective way to gather this information. You could also consider doing “certification” tests of your end users to gain a more objective understanding of their knowledge. Whatever this mechanism is to your practice, it should allow for users to be open and honest about their current knowledge. It some instances this is best to be an anonymous process or be certain that users don’t feel they will be penalized if they don’t know the answers.
Which Topics Should We Focus On?
Once you have a good understanding of what the users know, you can begin to work on developing the best topics to begin focusing on. You should focus on the topics that provide the biggest efficiency gain and clinical workflow impact. If you are unsure of how to deliver these topics, your system should have a help module or you can contact your vendor or clinical consultant for advice. Keeping the training topics short is the best way for staff to learn and begin using these features. I typically recommend distributing one key feature once a week or so. This allows staff to learn it and use to before they move on to learning something else. Our brains are hit with so much information daily that if you try to accomplish learning of advanced features all at once, many users will not retain the information you have given them.
Engaging a few users in the process will encourage everyone to want to learn more. Having a peer describe a problem and solution often has a greater impact than if it is delivered from a leadership position. I strongly encourage organizations to utilize super users in each role of their practice for this process. These users should be someone who can learn the technology quickly and also knows the practice workflows.
Once you have identified the training areas to focus on and have your super users in place, it’s time to encourage learning! You may want to give the survey or test to users after a set period of learning so that you can determine the success of your optimization process.