“I’m Ready For EHR: But I Don’t Think My Staff Is” – This is an actual quote from one of our EHR clients who successfully deployed EHR in her practice and convinced her staff members that this would benefit them and their patients.
According to the recent Harris Poll conducted by Stanford Medicine of all the provider’s using EHR – 66% of PCP’s report that they are satisfied with their EHR system, and 60% of physicians agree that EHR’s have led to improved patient care, both in general and within their practice.
So, providers are definitely focusing on providing value-based care to their patients by embracing the EHR technology, practice management software but it is sometimes the staff who create this resistance by clinging to the fear of the unknown, making this whole process a daunting task for the entire clinic.
Not all staff members are open to grasping these technological changes as any new change promotes its own set of operational learning and challenges – forcing one to move out of their comfort zone. It is only through patience, training, and proper guidance that providers can achieve cooperation in successfully implementing and operating EHR for their clinic.
Reasons for the Staff member’s resistance to EHR:
Not willing to move out of the comfort zone, uncomfortable in embracing technology, and unwillingness to learn
Let’s discuss each of these factors separately, seek solutions to overcome the roadblocks and eventually create an atmosphere of collaboration in leveraging the functionalities of an EHR to contribute in building a successful medical practice – where all – staff, clinician, physician, and patient are engaged and satisfied.
Not willing to move out of the comfort zone
“I can do my job better than that computer software because I know our patients and our workflow better than that system”.
While every medical practice tries to hire the best staff available to assist the doctors and fit in with the culture of the office; sometimes there are personality conflicts. There are some staff members who are willing to accommodate and change in accordance with the demands and needs of the practice and the healthcare industry but there are few who have the fear of the unknown and are reluctant to change from their status quo.
The continuous use of time taking, mundane and difficult to maintain paper files for documenting patient records are still their preferred mode of conduct. The whole new adoption of paperless medical records shrugs them off their comfort zone and creates an unwillingness to adapt to a new process.
“We will never go to EHR; what exactly can an EHR do for us, and how will it affect my job”?
One of the main reason for slower adoption of EHR, by a physicians practice is not understanding the current technology and the holistic, comprehensive benefits that an EHR can provide to a practice – mainly, computerized order entry (reducing documenting errors), Health Information Exchange (reducing time, duplication and cost in availing information on labs, tests, prescriptions). There may also be an underlying element of job security. If an EHR can do most of the job, what will I do?
Inability or unwillingness to learn
“We don’t need that, it will never work here”.
This is an attitude of a person acting in their own interest and not that of the practice. A large variety of reasons exist for this behavior. Could they lack the desire to learn something new? Are they comfortable in their current ways and unwilling to change? Many reasons do exist.
At PrognoCIS, we sometimes hear these stories and that’s the reason why we thought that it would be beneficial to provide a few pointers on overcoming this behavior and preparing staff to have a proactive approach towards embracing the EHR technology.
Tips to prepare your staff for EHR acceptance and training
1. Appropriate Staff Selection – Now is the time to find out the computer-savvy staff members. Your front desk staff might currently be scanning and printing insurance cards to attach to each patient’s paper chart, but do they know how to save those on scanned documents? What about attaching those files to the patient’s EHR chart?
Identify computer-savvy staff and provide training to them first. These staff members who learn the program intensively are then the designated “super users.” They can be trained on the overall aspect of EHR and be assigned to teach, train, and guide the rest of the staff. For all other staff, training could be focused on the features that they will use on a daily basis. This approach will simplify tasks – cut down on learning time, eliminate confusion and get staff up to speed on the EHR adoption more quickly. For example, employees in the billing department need to learn about finding out insurance information, billing codes, sending messages to a physician, and submitting an electronic claim. They don’t need to learn how to transfer a chart, or view lab results.
2. Training – Your employees will need to be assessed on their technological aptitude. If they lack computer skills, they need to be provided with basic computer training. Only then will your team be ready to understand how to use an EHR and better grasp the training provided by your vendor. Providing adequate computer training can make the transition process easier for users wary of change and will ensure that your entire team is ready to go when the EHR arrives.
3. Ongoing training, evaluation, and post-implementation feedback sessions – To keep the staff up to date, proficient and competent in handling their respective workflow, training and evaluation have to be an ongoing process, even after the EHR implementation process is over. There will be occasions when a clinic staff might run into technical difficulties—whether it’s a documentation part that cannot be comprehended by front office staff or a billing code that seems to be overwhelming. All these limitations could lead to severe documentation, billing or reporting errors. The only way to prevent this from happening is to provide constant training and conduct a periodic evaluation.
There can also be instances where the EHR vendor might create an enhancement for an existing feature or introduce a totally new feature. The staff members need to keep abreast of all these technological changes through continued training and participation.
4. Encourage feedback and participation – After successful implementation of EHR, it would be beneficial to conduct periodic meetings with the entire staff – nurses, administrative staff, billing and front desk employees to see how each department is handing their respective work and whether there is a roadblock somewhere which could be removed with continued cooperation and training.
5. Access to Knowledge Base – Product training resources are usually made available online by vendors through training manuals and FAQ’s available on their resource center. Some vendors offer pre-recorded videos and tutorials that can help provide extra information and training on a specific task. “Online tutorials allow users to teach themselves how to use the EHR at their own pace,” says a sales rep associated with one of the EHR software vendors. This can be something as simple as updating a patient’s current medications list to something as complex as merging duplicate patient charts. Whatever the topic, webinars and other video presentations can help you and your staff find answers to questions about your EHR without having to pay for extra training.
6. Encourage participation in Community forums – This is another useful tool for accessing information and getting an expert’s view or suggestion on a topic that one is seeking help in. Forums will also provide an interactive platform to discuss issues, solutions, and technological advances made in the area of electronic health record.