Study finds volunteer EHR trainers most effective instructors

Study finds volunteer EHR trainers most effective instructors

According to a study done by Yale University researcher Christina Yuan that was published in the journal BMC Medical Informatics & Decision Making, electronic health record trainers who voluntarily took on this role were proven to be better teachers than people forced into the instructor position. She also found that management played a crucial role in the success of these digital systems. 

Study observed EHR implementation 
IHealthBeat explained that Yuan's research team studied two departments of an academic healthcare institution that was integrating electronic health records into their workflows between October 2012 and June 2013. The researchers spoke with 29 workers who were described as EHR "super users" and conducted 24 additional interviews. 

Overall, Yuan and the other researchers came to the conclusion that two major factors are vital for successful EHR implementation. First, the team determined that when the super users were asked to volunteer as trainers, those who said they would take on the roles were far more effective as instructors because they had chosen to become actively engaged in the process.

Additionally, the "implementation climate" must be supportive and proactive in order to produce the best results. Health Data Management explained that managers that make an effort to be supportive and involved with super users are able to propel their organizations toward total EHR integration much more effectively than administrators who simply comply with the new workflow. The source pointed to a section of the report that described a manager who did not anticipate technical issues that would arise on the first day the office began using EHRs. The lack of preparation on the part of this administrator lowered staff morale and increased stress levels. 

Management can make EHR integration more efficient
Yuan explained to Health Data Management that one way managers can be supportive and engaged with EHR super users is simply by acknowledging the amount of time, effort and stress that goes along with learning a complex digital filing system. Part of this involves making sure practices are not understaffed. When organizations are first getting EHRs off the ground, it's reasonable to schedule multiple super users for the same shifts. Yuan discussed how initial tech snags often force super users to become "super users-plus" when they are the only resources for the system. 

In addition to these findings, Yuan told Health Data Management that she observed a number of other ways EHR implementation could be more effective. For example, she pointed to hands-on learning exercises as a good teaching method. 

"That was really a great strategy because you learn best by doing," she told the source.