Hands-on Training, Engaged Leadership Critical to Long-term EHR Success

February 22, 2011

Want to get your physicians enthused about your new EHR? Nix the big educational lectures and set a good example.

Your practice may have implemented an EHR system, but are all the clinicians you work with excited about it? Are they actively using it on a daily basis?

If not, you’re not alone. Many healthcare organizations that have implemented EHRs are having trouble getting physicians to embrace them - and use them on a regular basis beyond minimum federal requirements. And there are a number of reasons why.

“I hear things like ‘lack of resources,’ ‘not intuitive,’ ‘clinician resistance,’ ‘inadequate training,’ and that they’re already busy with the ICD-10 transition,” said Heather Haugen, director of Health Information Technology CLSC Program at University of Colorado, who spoke at the HIMSS 2011 conference session, “A Prescription for Achieving Long-Term EMR Adoption.”

The good news, said Hague, is that once a healthcare organization has clinician buy-in, the organization may begin to enjoy some of the benefits of having an EHR system, which include better patient outcomes and higher patient-satisfaction rates.

So, how does a practice get physicians revved up about new technology?

The first step is making sure your practice’s management is actively engaged in purchasing and implementing the EHR, and enthusiastic about making a change from paper-based transactions.

“Physician adoption [of EHRs] is highly dependent on engaged leadership,” said Hague.

The best way to engage clinicians is by making sure training sessions are active, hands-on opportunities, rather than multi-hour lectures.

Many clinicians are told how to use an EHR system in a group lecture setting. But unless they’re actually using it to execute tasks like inputting blood-pressure levels or checking in patients, they’re not going to learn much by watching demonstrations, Hague said, noting that when U.S. pilots had to convert from analog to digital systems in the 1980s, they trained by sitting inside flight simulators that mimicked planes.

“Traditional training methods drive clinicians nuts, and we don’t have time for it,” said Hague.

Another way to make sure clinicians are engaged in learning and using your practice’s EHR is to treat EHR adoption like it is a top priority, just as important as making the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes. One way to do this is to explain how EHR use is tied to clinical and financial outcomes, said Hague.

For example, if the physicians can see a clear example of how using an EHR is tied to a lower adverse-event incident rate, they’re more likely to want to use the technology.

“Focus on outcomes, not just going live,” Hague said.

Marisa Torrieri is associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at marisa.torrieri@ubm.com.

Check out our full coverage of the HIMSS 2011 conference here.