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In a clinician survey, researchers found healthcare organizations that invest in EHR training report higher levels of EHR user satisfaction.

Kate Monica 

Administering sufficient EHR training to clinicians may be the key to improving rates of EHR user satisfaction, according to a recent clinician survey by the KLAS Arch Collaborative.

Researchers including Julia Adler-Milstein, Christopher A. Longhurst, and others analyzed survey data from the Arch Collaborative from tens of thousands of EHR users to identify the factors that influence whether a user will report higher levels of EHR satisfaction.

“We as an industry have an opportunity to improve EHR adoption by investing in EHR learning and personalization support for caregivers,” wrote researchers in the study.

“If health care organizations offered higher-quality educational opportunities for their care providers — and if providers were expected to develop greater mastery of EHR functionality — many of the current EHR challenges would be ameliorated,” they stated.

Researchers noted during their review that users of the same EHR system often report significantly different experiences with the software. Less than 20 percent of variation in user experience could be explained by EHR software type, while over 50 percent of variation resulted from differences in the way clinicians interacted with their system, researchers wrote.

“Similarly, within the seven EHR solutions measured, a very unsuccessful provider organization was identified in each customer base, and a successful customer was identified in six of the seven customer bases,” researchers stated.

Healthcare organizations interested in improving rates of EHR satisfaction among clinicians are more likely to see improvements if they invest in EHR training and assist users in becoming more adept at navigating EHR technology rather than investing in a new EHR implementation.

“In the Arch Collaborative large dataset, the single greatest predictor of user experience is not which EHR a provider uses nor what percent of an organization's operating budget is spent on information technology, but how users rate the quality of the EHR-specific training they received,” researchers wrote.

The team found 475 instances in their research in which two physicians in the same specialty used the same EHR system at the same organization and reported very different user experiences.

“In over 89 percent of these instances, the physician who strongly agreed also reported better training, more training efforts, or more effort expended in setting up EHR personalization,” emphasized researchers.

Researchers recommended healthcare industry stakeholders implement standards to ensure clinicians across organizations receive high-quality EHR training.

Recommending healthcare organizations administer at least 4 hours of EHR training may help to improve rates of EHR satisfaction industry-wide.

“Organizations requiring less than 4 hours of education for new providers appear to be creating a frustrating experience for their clinicians,” wrote researchers. “These organizations have lower training satisfaction, lower self-reported proficiency, and are less likely to report that their EHR enables them to deliver quality care.”

Standardizing the way EHR training should be structured would be more challenging. Researchers observed significant variation in the ways different healthcare organizations structure their training and educational programs, and were unable to indicate a single training program structure that achieved better results than every other.

However, researchers did note user personalization features were typically underutilized during EHR training programs.

“One of the most consistent observations seen across the collaborative organizations is how powerful EHR personalization can be and how much adoption is lacking today,” wrote researchers.

Investing resources in ongoing education that assists EHR users with system personalization may help to promote EHR optimization and improve rates of EHR satisfaction.

Looking ahead, researchers recommended healthcare organizations prioritize EHR training so that clinicians fully understand the limits of their systems and are confident in their ability to navigate the technology.

“While the Arch Collaborative research has convinced us that the greatest opportunity for progressing the value of the EHR currently lies in improved user training, this approach clearly needs to be balanced with a parallel focus on better designed and smarter software that can better meet nuanced needs of health care,” noted researchers.

“For EHR software to revolutionize health care, both the software and the use of that complicated software need to progress in parallel,” the team added.