Electronic health records may be as contentious to the healthcare world as reality television is to, well, everyone, but there’s something we can all agree on: EHRs are catching on fast. According to IDC Health Insights, adoption of EHRs is set to hit 80% in healthcare market by 2016.
So you can understand that reading about improper EHR training in med schools is perplexing, if not downright enraging. Considering the cost and prestige of American schools, reading that only 64% of medical programs allow their students to use EHRs is appalling.
The same study, conducted by the Alliance for Clinical Education, also showed that only two-thirds of those students are allowed to take notes in the records. Now, some of these med school grads represent fresh, young blood for your practice, and their wealth of top-of-mind knowledge can be an asset for your practice.
But how can you familiarize them with your EHR?
As with everyone at your practice, staff or physician, take time to go through the basics with a recent med school grad. A late-2011 American EHR Partners survey demonstrated about 50% of physicians are receiving three or fewer days of training, and 4% admitted to receiving no initial training at all.
What does this mean? All the consequences you’ve already heard – poor patient care, not enough time for all patient appointments, increased errors, etc. So before anything, ask the recent grad questions about what he or she learned in medical school about EHRs and other related administrative questions. Gauge what he or she knows about EHR systems before you begin training.
Next, show your new hire what the system looks like, how to accomplish necessary tasks like note taking and ePrescribing, and provide emphasis on the practice’s methods for accomplishing tasks so they can begin training with an appropriately framed mindset.
Shadowing is perhaps the most important. This gives your new hire a chance to learn on the job, so to speak, but you or another staff member will be to serve as a guide. American EHR Partners recommend three to five days of training, so beginning to shadow your new hire on day two or three is advisable.
Shadowing will help the new grad get an idea of how your practice’s EHR fits within your workflow and processes. Furthermore, you or a staff member can help the new employee look for potential issues and point out shortcuts and tips that you can’t provide by simply going through the basics, no matter how user friendly your EHR is.
Also, shadowing gives your new hire the opportunity to experience practice culture firsthand – core values, beliefs and perceptions. He or she will learn to work with other physicians and staff members with the advantage of a helping hand.
Ask your new hire plenty of questions before letting him go out into the wild, so to speak. Identify his computer literacy and choose a technologically proficient staff member to provide training if the new grad is not well-versed enough to use your EHR on his own.
Ask him to run through the system with you or a staff member in private, from the bottom up. If there is time, run a mock consultation between your med school grad and a staff member while you observe. Allay concerns and fears whenever possible, and troubleshoot when necessary, of course.
It’s also a good idea to compile issues you, other physicians and your staff members faced during your own EHR training, to serve as a FAQ of sorts for new hires.
Leaving the Nest
Sure, there is apprehension when allowing your new hire to venture beyond the proverbial nest. But like a new parent (or mama bird), there comes a time when you have to let go.
Keep a list of webinars, presentations, infographics, articles, whitepapers and any other kind of supplements you may come across that could help a new grad adjust to your practice’s EHR. Ensure it’s current and readily available. Then it’s time to let go.
But still, don’t forget to prepare for the unexpected.
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