Why Medical Practices Scrimp on EHR Training But Shouldn’t

May 23, 2013

Training may be one of the biggest barriers to full EHR buy-in from clinicians, study says.

Implementing an EHR, many practice managers and physicians tell us, is no easy feat. Frustrations include fears of or actual lost revenue to dealing with physician resentment. All of which leads to delays in true adoption (actually using an EHR after it has been purchased).

Training clinicians to use the EHR is also challenging.

In a recent survey of 300 U.S. health professionals, TEKsystems Healthcare Services, a Hanover, Md.-area provider of IT workforce planning to the healthcare industry, found that training - or lack of proper training - may be one of the biggest barriers to full EHR buy-in from clinicians.

According to the survey, conducted in the early part of this year in partnership with HIMSS Analytics, nearly two-thirds of healthcare professionals (64 percent) believe achieving adoption is a roadblock to a successful EHR implementation. The report also reveals:

Sixty-six percent of respondents cite the challenge of finding the right workers with the right skills for EHR implementation.

More than half struggle with finding the right people to build a training program (57 percent) or lead the classroom discussions (53 percent).

For more than three-quarters of healthcare professionals, results of poor EHR training implementation include: rework (85 percent), lack of applicability to real-world scenarios (84 percent), low levels of user adoption (84 percent), long learning curves (82 percent), and inability to leverage the system for meaningful use (77 percent).

“Achieving meaningful use and truly improving the quality of patient care can only happen if end users fully adopt a new EHR system in an acceptable timeframe,” said Allen Kriete, TEKsystems vice president of healthcare services, in a press release. “Organizations expect their people to adapt quickly, yet many do not plan for end-user training until late in the effort.”

Von Baker, practice director of healthcare services at TEKsystems, said data suggests that practices and other healthcare organizations often underestimate how long training will take, or they under-budget for it.

“You should spend at least as much as you do on the EHR system as you do on implementation and training,” Baker told Physicians Practice.

Therefore, health IT staff or those in charge of EHR implementation should invest in finding the appropriate resources necessary for building, integrating, and conducting EHR training.

“Most times with an organization going from a paper process to electronic process, the assumption is ‘people are acclimated; they use technology outside of the home,’” Baker told Physicians Practice. “However, many clinicians chose their careers because they wanted hands-on interaction with other humans, not because they wanted to interact with technology. It’s a huge change for adults because they have to be a part of the learning process. This isn’t technology they’re choosing, like a cell phone. The technology is chosen for them.”

Kriete suggests practices look for IT educators with clinical and technical EHR experience.

“The training cannot simply be ‘off-the-shelf,’” said Kriete. “It should align with the overall organizational goals, work flows, technical requirements, and end-user job roles. One method for ensuring a training program is effective and builds confidence within an organization is to engage end users, those using the system on a day-to-day basis, in the development of the curriculum.” 

For more EHR training tips, see “How to Ensure a Successful EHR Implementation at Your Medical Practice.”