Physicians need better EHR training, study finds

A new analysis points to lack of training on how to use EHRs as the chief cause of physician dissatisfaction.

By now, physicians know that electronic health records (EHRs) have not lived up to their potential.

But a new analysis published in the journal Applied Clinical Informatics points to lack of training on how to use EHRs as the chief cause of physician dissatisfaction. The authors argue that most of the problems with EHRs would be alleviated with proper training.

“The extensive feedback from tens of thousands of users reveals critical gaps in users' understanding of how to optimize their EHR,” the authors write. “Therefore, we as an industry have an opportunity to improve EHR adoption by investing in EHR learning and personalization support for caregivers. If healthcare 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.”

The authors caution that their findings do not let EHR vendors off the hook on improving their products, or the need to relieve physicians of some of the regulatory burdens that require extensive documentation for billing purposes. Instead, they see improved training in how to use the system as an untapped opportunity to help EHRs become a tool to improve patient care and lower healthcare costs.

“For a physician, feeling safe with the tools of medicine is about more than just the user interface,” the authors write. “Physicians who report poor training are over 3.5 times more likely to report that their EHR does not enable them to deliver quality care.”

The analysis looked at physician experience data from physicians using seven different EHR systems, and found that each piece of software had users with bad experiences and most of them had physicians who had positive experiences. The authors found that the single greatest predictor of user experience is the quality of the training they received, regardless of the system in use.

The authors conclude that healthcare organizations need to invest more money into training. In addition, EHR training standards must be developed, and user personalization should be further encouraged, as physicians who personalize their systems have greater user satisfaction.

“Focusing organizational support and resources on ongoing education that helps providers personalize the retrieval and presentation of data leads to marked improvement in physician satisfaction,” the authors write.

READ MORE: Physicians choose their top 9 EHR systems

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