The best thing your practice can do to help ensure a successful implementation is to have a strong training plan serving as the backbone of the process.
Today, we want to share with you what elements your practice needs to consider in order to develop an exhaustive training plan so that you'll be able to start using your software with minimal errors.
Talk to Your Staff
When it comes to any type of change in your practice, communication is key. Asking your staff for their input when developing a training plan helps make everyone in your practice feel like they are an active member in the process. Ask them what they want, or need, to get out of the training personally and use this to help set realistic staff expectations.
Determine Your Staff's Training Needs
It is almost impossible to successfully train if you don't know exactly what you are training for. Training needs vary from practice to practice, depending on if you are making the switch from an old software to a new one, or transitioning from paper methods to electronic. Training needs also vary across each individual in your practice. Some of your staff might be more familiar with technology than others, so it is important that you assess each individual to help you develop your plan.
Consider Your Options
Take a look at the different options and resources your EHR vendor offers, and decide which of them will help your practice be successful in training. You might want to even look beyond your vendor for additional options, if you really think implementation will present a challenge for your practice, but we recommend to always talk to your vendor first to see what resources they have or suggest.
Develop Clear Goals
After you get staff and vendor input, you have to decide what your training goals will be. These goals should be clear and easy for your entire staff to understand. This may seem cheesy, but you might even consider coming up with an internal mission statement, specific to training, to help keep everyone in your practice working toward the same overarching objectives. While your goals should push your practice to strive towards excellence, it is important that these goals are measurable and achievable.
Set a Timeline
Nothing happens overnight; your training process is going to take time. You should set a realistic timeline for when you expect your practice to tackle different training objectives. Finding the balance of setting a timeline that is too fast or too slow might be tricky, and the length of implementation is different for each practice. When setting your timeline, keep your individual practice needs and schedule in mind so you don't end up feeling like you are lagging, or rushing through your training.
Determine How You Will Track and Evaluate Progress
Depending on your individual objectives and goals, you need to decide how you want to track and evaluate the progress that your practice is making along the way. It is important to determine this during the planning process so you can be prepared when it actually comes time to track and evaluate. It is a good idea to visually track your progress so that your staff can see how far they've come, and what they still have left to tackle. Use a consistent method of evaluation so you can see how your practice is doing every step of the way.
Adopt a Positive Attitude
The last thing you should do when developing your training plan is to get in a positive mind-set. EHR training can be a challenging process, but it is important to remember that you are setting an example for your staff. If you want to make the training a positive experience for your team, lead with a positive attitude.
Once you have your plan set, it is time to start training! While the basic goals and objectives of your training plan should remain consistent throughout, some details might need to change along the way. We recommend weekly meetings with your staff throughout training to evaluate your progress as a team and review your plan and its effectiveness. This allows you the opportunity to make any necessary changes to your training plan.
The training process doesn't need to be a stressful one, if you plan carefully and take things one step at a time, it'll be over before you know it. Just keep in mind the end goal of gaining all of the practice benefits your new EHR software will offer you, and it'll all be worth it in the end.
Do you want more help with your change management plan? Read our ebook on preparing for change.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published May 2015. It has been updated for relevance and richness of content in January 2022.