EHR Training: Are Your Doctors Fully Prepped?

Clinicians need more EHR instruction than they now receive, report says.
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If clinicians hope to use electronic health records (EHR) to improve patient care, they will have to be fully versed in how to use them--but a new survey suggests they are not getting the training they need. An AmericanEHR Partners report reveals doctors need at least three to five days of EHR training, but nearly half (49.3%) receive three or fewer days.

The survey, summed up in The Correlation of Training Duration With EHR Usability and Satisfaction: Implications For Meaningful, interviewed more than 2,300 physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners who use nationally certified ambulatory EHR products. The poll was conducted between April 2010 and July 2011 to gauge views and attitudes regarding the respondents' satisfaction with EHR systems.

Other key findings revealed that:

-- Overall satisfaction with an EHR was highly correlated with whether the respondent was involved in the EHR selection process.

-- Ratings on ease of use for basic EHR features required for Meaningful Use continue to improve with more than two weeks of training.

[For more background on e-prescribing tools, see 6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch.]

-- Ratings on ease of use for specific Meaningful Use measures varied significantly. More training--at least one week--was correlated with improvement in the reported usability of advanced EHR features (e.g. checking patient-specific formularies, importing medication lists, and medication reconciliation).

"What was surprising to me about the study's findings is that there is a mismatch between what the demonstrated needs are and what is actually happening in the market right now," said Alan Brookstone, CEO at Cientis Technologies Inc, in an interview with InformationWeek.

AmericanEHR Partners was founded by the American College of Physicians and Cientis Technologies, and is supported by 14 additional professional societies and content partners with a combined membership of more than 350,000 clinicians.

According to Brookstone, clinicians' ability to use EHRs is critical to the success of the federal government's initiatives to support the adoption and meaningful use of EHR systems. As the industry braces for more rigorous quality and performance measurements, which will come with the demands of Meaningful Use Stage 2, providers will need even more training on these systems.

"When you do an initial implementation, in order to just get people started on using an EHR system properly, they need at least three to five days of training. However, in order to get effective use they need a lot more than that," Brookstone said. "I think the key question to ask is where do you find the sweet spots? We need to know what is adequate in order to achieve a basic standardized level of use of these systems because they are like any other technical tool. It's going to take people time to become competent users of EHRs."