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Correlation between EHR training and user satisfaction

- Recently, I had the pleasure of reading an AmericanEHR Partner’s report entitled The Correlation of Training Duration with EHR Usability and Satisfaction: Implications for Meaningful Use, and it got me thinking about an experience I had one summer at the family cottage.  You see, the report clearly identified two pitfalls that EHR users commonly encounter — not being involved in the purchasing process and not getting adequate training. Here’s why it got me thinking about the cottage, and one event in particular.

Years ago my father bought me a sailboard, perhaps more commonly known as a windsurfer. This was truly an exciting event in my young life and I immediately pictured myself racing across the lake, deftly skipping across the waves like a seasoned pro.

Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way, at least, not initially. My father wanted to surprise me — and he did. I had a huge grin on my face when he showed up with a brand-new windsurfer hanging out of the back of his Chevy Celebrity wagon. The downside was that I hadn’t been involved in the purchase and so I really had no idea where to begin. So there I was, full of energy, raring to go, but not really sure what this new windsurfer was all about.

To make a long story short, my first attempts to get up on the board and sail were futile. Like many EHR users, I was not satisfied with my experience. Why was this? Well, in short, because I hadn’t been trained. It wasn’t until after days of flailing around in the bay, getting nowhere that another windsurfer happened by. This changed everything. In what felt like 10 minutes, this accomplished windsurfer was able to show me a number of windsurfing best practices that rocketed me so fast up the learning curve that I went from abject failure to intermediate sailor in a day. Why did this happen? Because I finally got some hands-on training from someone who knew the ropes. The results were definitive.

Not surprisingly, the folks at AmericanEHR found the same thing when they examined user satisfaction and its correlation with training duration. Generally, the more training one gets on a new EHR, the more satisfied one will be. Seems straightforward enough, but what struck me about this research is that the data suggests that there are a great deal of doctors who are not getting sufficient training. Why? Do vendors not offer enough training? Is it too expensive? Is the doctor at fault? Doctors are, after all, very busy professionals with a tremendous amount of responsibility. Maybe they have trouble making time for this new, sometimes foreign technology.

Irrespective of where the blame might lie (the study didn’t identify specific causes for insufficient training duration), wouldn’t EHR vendors want to ensure that users received the training required to make the implementation of the system a success? The obvious answer is yes.

It would seem to me that there is an opportunity here for prospective EHR buyers (do we call them “borrowers” if it’s a free EHR?) to leverage this exact study when shopping for their first or next EHR. Use this research to demonstrate to vendors competing for a doctor’s business that they must be involved in the purchase decision and, perhaps more importantly, that training is crucial and not negotiable. Read the AmericanEHR research, look at the numbers and demand sufficient training time for you and your staff. Go beyond just asking for more training — make the deal contingent on it. And, whatever you do, don’t pay a cent for it. The vendor needs you to be successful. There are hundreds of vendors competing for your business. They value your word-of-mouth, and their reputations even more. Why should you pay to be trained on a product you are already paying for? It makes no sense to me.

Next time you kick the tires on a new EHR, make sure you get involved, and pay special attention to the training that comes with each product. Follow this advice and it should be smooth sailing.

 

Steven Ferguson was appointed to the position of Patient Management Officer at Hello Health in 2011 where he spends his time blogging, managing inbound marketing and event management. From 2008 to 2011, Steven served as the Vice President of Product Development at Myca Health, Inc., the parent company of Hello Health. From 2004 to 2008, he served as Senior Product Manager of Cardinal Health Clinical Services and Technologies, responsible for managing point-of-care medication administration and clinical documentation applications.

 

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