If you're focused primarily on the technical aspects of your EHR deployment, you're neglecting one key component: That's training your physicians to document care in the EHR. What Dan O'Connor, vice president of client relations at Stoltenberg Consulting, recommends is "elbow-to-elbow" support for physicians.
This level of support is different from the initial training physicians receive when they're introduced to the system, he notes. Available virtually in real-time, this type of support can be provided by an in-house trainer at the practice or even from a remote location by an expert who can access the physician's computer and "shadow" them from a distance.
Timing is important here, since physicians can't keep a patient waiting and they don't have time to make a phone call and wait half an hour to get help navigating within the EHR, according to O'Connor.
Then, of course, there are the personality traits you're looking for in a trainer who can get your physicians using the EHR effectively and efficiently. "You're looking for someone who is patient. This is a person at your practice who's energetic; many are on the younger side, though we do see some [trainers] who are very seasoned as well. What's important here is that this person has the drive and determination to learn new technology," he said.
It's pretty easy to pick out people at your practice with these strengths. They're the team members who are always trying to stay on the forefront of what's going on from a technology perspective, added O'Connor.
Linda ClenDening, chief executive officer of Nashville area-based Hughston Clinic Orthopedics, agrees. "In addition to having someone who's really skilled with the new product, you also need someone who can meet your physicians where they are."
You're looking for someone on your team who really understands the power of individualizing the training physicians receive — that's what makes a trainer so valuable, she adds. That's because each of your physicians is going to learn how to use the EHR in their own way and on their own timeframe.
To get physicians used to documenting in a new EHR, you need a trainer who can take the time to explain why we're asking them to do this in a new way, explains ClenDening. That's the best way to engender a sense of loyalty and hard work that's required with the deployment of any new technology.
O'Connor also recommends leveraging physician champions who have a lot of technical savvy. Because many physicians have a few years of experience using the EHR, there are more of these physician-trainers sitting in our practices today than you realize.
Ultimately, what you can't afford to do is "skimp" on the amount of training you provide—nor can you neglect the vital people skills required in the trainers who will get your physicians documenting care in your new EHR, he adds.