Posted By Monique Dever On October 14, 2015

EHR User Groups: The Benefits of Group Learning

Whenever you read of identified “best practices” of successful EHR implementation, one of the key ingredients is always “extensive staff training” and “practice makes perfect”. However, various EHR vendors provide different levels of training.
There are various models of training used by EHR vendors including:

  • Basic, remote training (over the web) including self-help videos. Though cost effective in the short term, it is expensive in the long term as learning over the web is not as effective as in person training
  • On-site “Train the Trainer” approach which saves vendors and customers money upfront as vendors only train a few staff members who in turn train the remainder of their agency staff. Though better than remote training, it is also limited and EHR implementation success can be hit or miss.
  • Classroom style, on-site, in-person training for each end user, conducted by the EHR vendor’s professional trainers. This is the best approach to maximize value from your EHR investment.

Just like all software and technology, there are many facets of an EHR which one cannot learn during the initial vendor-provided training. During initial training, users are focused on learning the how-to basics of the new EHR to perform their daily tasks. Once they become proficient with the basics, their need to learn more advanced EHR features becomes apparent.

Some EHR vendors provide more up front training than others, often charging an immense amount of money for it. So, with a lack of adequate funding, it is imperative for public health departments to take advantage of any additional free training offered. Sometime this comes in the form of user group training sessions. Some EHR vendors provide advanced training as well as forums for shared learning via user groups. So, it is important to note if your EHR vendor offers post-implementation group training.

User groups, comprised of many similar type users (e.g. clinical staff from a few area public health departments), can be a great form of collective learning to accelerate the learning curve of the staff. For instance, when a more veteran health department that has been using the system for a while, they may offer easy tips and tricks learned, and groups can share common problems and solutions, experiences and best practices.

In addition to streamlined and advanced product training, EHR user groups also allow discussions of how to maximize value from your EHR software and, for some vendors, identify new opportunities to improve local health department operations via new software development. This can help public health leaders determine best practices for incorporating the new EHR into their department when it comes to evaluating workflows, processes and the people using the system.

Health departments deal with a higher level of complexity (and potentially, burden) in selecting, adopting and using their Electronic Health Record (EHR) software. So collaboration among various local health departments is a win-win for all involved in user group training, especially when it comes to using the EHR to its fullest potential including reporting and other state and federal requirements such as Meaningful Use.

EHR training should not stop after initial training and go-live. User groups are a perfect opportunity to learn advanced features, tips and share best practices with your peers from other counties, once the basics have sunk in.

About Monique Dever

Monique integrates research and networking with her passion for health and well-being to provide important, up-to-date news, resources and current events to the public health communities. She is the Marketing Executive for Patagonia Health, an Electronic Health Records (EHR) software company focused on the public health sector.