The Importance of EMR Training

By:  Jennifer Heiligman, PT, MPT

You’ve invested your time, resources and energy into choosing an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system for your practice.  You may be moving away from paper or you may be switching from one EMR to another.  Either way, it is not a task that is undertaken lightly.  However, after that very important decision is made, one of the most overlooked considerations is end user training.  This is arguably the most important aspect of a successful implementation and successful continued use of an EMR.  You may have chosen the EMR with the most bells and whistles.  However, your practice will never be able to take advantage of those great features if your employees are not trained how to efficiently use them.

There have been multiple studies completed looking at the impact of quality EMR training.  The consistent finding of these studies:  quality end user training results in increased user satisfaction and increased effectiveness of the EMR.  By investing in proper training of your administrative staff and clinical staff, it will decrease the number of errors that may occur.  These errors could affect the compliance of your clinical documentation which could lead to unwanted audits and fines.  They can also impact your reimbursement should the errors involve entering wrong payer information or improper billing processes.

Training can be completed in a number of ways and usually includes a combination of many strategies.  One strategy is to create Super Users for the software.  These are employees who have completed extensive training within the EMR and can move through the system quickly and efficiently.  In addition, they have taken advantage of all the training being offered by the EMR company and have a better understanding of how the EMR can be used most efficiently for your specific practice workflows and needs.  Super Users can then take on the responsibility of training other staff members.  

Another training method is role based training.  This type of training separates the users into groups based on their roles and responsibilities within the practice.   This allows the training sessions to be focused on specific areas of the software.  For example, you may separate your users into separate groups for your front office staff, clinical staff and billers.  This method may help users not feel overwhelmed since they will be focusing only on the specific sections of the software they will need to use.

Processed based training can also be incorporated into your implementation training.  This involves the training of the actual workflows for different procedures that need to occur in your practice.  An example would be patient registration.  If your new EMR has a patient portal that can electronically accept patient information, then a new workflow will need to be established on how to inform patients to use the portal to submit their information. The staff should then be educated on the new workflow.  Another example may be the new process for sending documents to the referring physician.  In the past the staff may have had to manually fax the documents, however, your new EMR includes electronic outbound faxing.  A workflow will need to be created and disseminated, including who will be responsible for sending the fax out of the system. Front office? Therapist?

When establishing your training plan, be sure to consider the different skill levels of your users.  Some staff may be more technologically savvy than others.  If you have employees that struggle with computers in general, you may want to consider including basic computer training for those employees.  Make sure you are giving your staff all the tools they need to be successful.  In the long run, the investment will only work to benefit your practice.  Hands-on training is also extremely helpful. Allowing users to go into the system and “play” around is a great way to learn and reinforce information they have been taught. 

In addition to end user training that occurs at the time of the initial EMR implementation, do not neglect the need for continued training.  This includes when you add new staff members.  You should not just throw them into the system to fend for themselves.  Have a super user take the time to train the new employee or sign them up for training offered through your EMR company.  The more comfortable they are with the EMR system, the more satisfied they will be in their new job.

Continued training for your entire staff should also occur at regular intervals in order to learn about and master any new features the EMR has added.  These new features may be just what your practice needs to be even more efficient in your daily tasks.  If you don’t know about the features or don’t know how to use them, then you are not taking full advantage of the product you purchased to help make your work life easier.

Whether you are implementing a new EMR or continuing to use your current software, it is important to take the time and make the investment in training your staff on how to use the EMR efficiently.  Proper training can increase employee satisfaction and productivity.  This could, in turn, help with improving patient treatment and outcomes.  It also allows your practice to use the software to its full potential.  You chose the system with the most appealing features, don’t let those features go to waste simply because no one knows how to use them.  Quality end user training for your EMR software will always give you a return on your investment.  

Not feeling supported by your EMR? Schedule a demo and check out OptimisPT.