Training Staff - The Process

By: Gen Wright


In the past year I've made an attempt to take readers along as our practice makes the transition from paper record-keeping to electronic medical records (EMR).

Colleagues have inquired about why the process is so long and complicated. Some of the articles written about electronic medical records cite projects that require only three or four months to complete. Perhaps this is possible - for a technically-savvy practice which already uses basic EMR from one location.

Still, the majority of medical practices require much more than just a simple software installation and staff training. The change over to electronic medical records is a shift of the entire culture at the practice. Addressing this issue thoroughly can make or break the success of a project. Now, let's discuss the staff training process.

EMR training in three steps:

Identify Skill Level

Today most younger people are well-familiar with the Internet, computers, and PDAs. However, a large percentage of older adults still have limited experience with the latest technology. It's a lucky fact that most doctors must keep up with technology out of necessity. Most physicians use computers regularly. Still, many other staff members have limited exposure to computers at work - and limited skill as a result.

In order to gauge an employee's computer literacy, they can be asked about the applications they've used, along with some examples of the sorts of tasks they've performed. It's also possible to tell an employee's competency through the vocabulary that they are familiar with.

Bring Staff Up to the Necessary Skill Level

When preparing to implement an EMR or EPM system with a graphical user interface, your entire staff will need to possess at least some computer skills. These include drag-and-drop, as well as understanding how files are saved on a computer.

The particular tasks will differ depending on the staff member's job description. Almost all of your employees will need to know how to use the system to look up appointment info. Some staff members will need to be able to check patients in and out; others will have to post money or generate claims. Maybe the technical staff won't have to understand the claims process, but they will surely need to be proficient using EMR.

Plan to Train on the New Software

The electronic medical records committee must design a training plan which takes the above factors into consideration. The committee will have to determine what the common tasks for every employee will be, then adding additional skills of increased complexity to the appropriate departments and jobs.

The entire staff roster should be taught the system basics. Next, the department should rotate through the training room to receive training on the necessary tasks for their particular jobs.

A manual was prepared for the EPM software module, and another is being written for the EMR module. Improvements will be made to this training manual throughout the training process.

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