EHR Training: How to Help Users End Frustration, Overcome Fear and Engage

By Anne-Louise Sterry, Training Consultant, Pivot Point Consulting
Twitter: @pivotpc

During EHR implementations, trainers are frequently the first to introduce end-users to the new technology. Users often come to EHR training frustrated about the change and nervous about acclimating to a new system. Adding to the pressure they feel, EHR training may only entail a one-time training class that delivers an immense amount of information in a short period of time—unless the healthcare organization offers on-site interim training opportunities, users often never touch the EHR again until after go-live. Under those circumstances, trainee resistance and fear are understandable.

What I’ve discovered in my years as a trainer is that successful EHR adoption is not just about the technical training. The biggest part of my job is to give end-users encouragement and confidence that they will be able to adapt to the EHR even though they may forget some of what is taught during training. People learn the best when they feel personally engaged and know that the trainer cares about them. Trainers play a key role in promoting not only technical EHR know-how, but cultural buy-in.

Given the right training environment, EHR trainers can help healthcare organizations diffuse negativity and push-back while bringing end-users up to speed on new EHR workflows. A trainer’s ability to successfully empower users truly does come down to training delivery. Here are some of the best practices that I’ve cultivated over the years to help maximize staff acceptance of the EHR.

Little things matter when creating a welcoming learning environment. When EHR users come to class, stand by the door and greet them. Smile, ask trainees their name and introduce yourself. Don’t just sit behind the desk. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile to make people feel comfortable. Remind trainees that you are there as a resource for them.

Address end-user frustrations head-on. As part of class introductions, ask trainees to comment on how they are feeling about the EHR migration. If necessary, purge EHR transition angst and negativity by letting users briefly share how they feel at the very beginning of class. After that catharsis, implement a strict “no complaining” policy and start working to shift end-user thought patterns. I encourage users to change their internal talk track from one of resistance to one of acceptance.

Employ compassion and empathy to understand where end-users are coming from. Trainees may come to class with feelings of nervousness, fear and anxiety. This is particularly true among non-computer natives, who are pervasive in healthcare. I like to share my personal story of being hired to be a trainer based on my background as a speaker and a nurse, and having to learn the technical aspects of training along the way. Shared experience and understanding go a long way in establishing rapport.

Build a sense of safety and community among end-users. To avoid trainee feelings of inadequacy, I offer patience to those in the class and work to foster a growth mindset. In peer training settings, clinicians often feel they are expected to know everything. Actively work to make end-users feel comfortable asking questions. Remind them that just because they don’t know something yet does not mean they can’t learn it.

Create a different training environment than people expect. Infusing unanticipated elements into the training program can make it more memorable. I like to bring laughter to the training program because if people are laughing, they are learning. Humor can help diffuse tension and put people at ease.

Always opt for words of encouragement. Remind EHR trainees that they can all do it and they will succeed, regardless of age or technical aptitude. Point out that people often learn the same thing in very different ways and warn against comparing one’s learning speed to that of others. All end-users will inevitably forget a portion of what is covered in training but, with the right mindset, they will be able to learn it again.

I can’t say enough about the need for words of affirmation in healthcare. A lot is expected of staff members during an EHR implementation. The stress of training while managing the day-to-day work of patient engagement can be overwhelming. If nothing else, give them hope. We all feel the strain of change in healthcare and we could all use an encouraging word!

This article was originally published on Pivot Point Consulting and is republished here with permission.