Buying a new car or an EHR? Part 2

Buying a new car or an EHR? Part 2

Several weeks ago I wrote about how buying an EHR is like buying a car. As promised, here’s part two. So you bought the car, you settle in the driver’s seat and now panic sets in. What the heck am I doing in here? Where the heck is the ignition? Take a deep breath. What follows is intended to help you with the process of learning to drive your new EHR.

First, realize this is a process. It is a process that takes time. While you are adept at practicing pediatric medicine, you have never used this EHR tool to do so. Before you were 16 you got from point A to point B by riding your bike, taking a bus, or annoying your parents from the back seat while they drove the car, but you never actually had to drive (except maybe for the states that allow teen drivers even younger than 16….scary if you ask me.) You didn’t learn to drive on the interstate overnight, you aren’t going to learn your EHR overnight either.
Secondly, while you are an expert in pediatrics, it is unlikely you are an EHR expert. Listen to the EHR experts who will guide your education. Just as the student driver shouldn’t get in the car and tell the driving instructor how they want to be taught, think twice about dictating to your EHR instructor specifics regarding your education process. Your implementation team and trainers have done this before. They have learned what works and what doesn’t work. Let them outline a learning plan for you and your office. Clearly it is important to have input in the process, but try to keep yourself from micro-managing. This is not the place to cut corners. Having your office trained in a way that makes them feel comfortable, is key to their success and efficiency.
Next, remember that there is no substitute for practice. There is a reason that the state of Pennsylvania requires teen drivers to log 50 hours on the road before taking their exam. Practice makes you feel more comfortable. Make sure you take time to practice what you learn in training sessions. This is not the time to apply “see one, do one, teach one.” Be sure that your staff gets adequate, protected time to practice as well. They need time when they are not going to be interrupted by a ringing telephone, or a physician request such as “can you just get a quick Rapid Strep for me please?” When you are first learning and practicing you must be fully engaged in the process without distractions. Turn off the radio and cell phone when you are learning to drive.
Finally, be patient with yourself and your staff. Learn the basics first. When you are comfortable adjusting your mirrors and seat position, turning on the ignition and putting the car in gear, driving around the neighborhood, then you can thinking about pulling out onto the road. After practicing driving in your community, you will be ready to venture on to a larger highway, learn to parallel park and do a three point turn. If the first time you venture out of the driveway, you plan to accomplish a 12 hour road trip across mountainous terrain in a snowstorm while hauling a trailer, you will be so overwhelmed and anxious you will be paralyzed! Don’t try to learn all the nuances of the system at the beginning. Let your implementation team and trainers help you make a stepwise plan for implementing your pediatric EHR in a way that lets you feel accomplished and successful at tasks you do commonly, before you tackle the entire list of features and capabilities of the system.
So put your seat belt on and enjoy the ride. Remember that every NASCAR racer started as a student driver!