Onboarding Training

Onboarding Training: Elements of Success

As an editor at KLAS, I don’t often get the opportunity to interact with providers and see them in action. When I was invited to attend the second annual Arch Collaborative Summit, I was excited for the prospect of listening to providers talk about some of the most important and pressing topics in healthcare.

The first breakout session that I attended was focused on onboarding training. The panel included David Niland, Michael McNamara, Heidi Garzo, and Sean Johnson—all from organizations that went live with EMRs when most organizations didn’t even know what an EMR was. (Michael McNamara even said that Kaiser went live with Epic the year that Forrest Gump was the number one movie in America.) If anyone had some wisdom to share about onboarding training, these folks did.

Starting Out Right

When discussing onboarding, many providers were concerned about hiring the right trainers. Oftentimes, the trainers can make or break user proficiency and adoption.

Sean Johnson emphasized that Sansum Clinic hires trainers based on personality. Qualities such as niceness and curiosity are hard to teach, so it is important for organizations to find people who fit their culture and who can help providers be successful. As Sean said, “Providers are Batman, and trainers are providing the tool belt.”

But hiring the right trainers doesn’t fix everything. Another concern with training is that providers have all different needs and levels of proficiency, and organizations need to be prepared to cater to all of them.

While every situation is unique, many of the panel members emphasized the necessity of having all providers, even those with EMR experience, go through training. Another key is communicating why training is important. Heidi Garzo stated that while Petaluma Health Center tries to be understanding of providers’ backgrounds, the organization also has to help them understand the organizational workflows.

In the end, having providers go through training is almost always beneficial. Michael McNamara said, “People may already know some things, but they still say that Kaiser’s training is the best training they have ever gone through.” By providing training to everyone, organizations can enable providers to have the best start to their work experiences.

The Road to Proficiency

At the end of the day, the purpose of training is to help providers be as capable as possible of utilizing data to provide care.

To get to that point, organizations need to monitor and test providers’ abilities. However, when testing for proficiency, it is important to not be overbearing, as that often leads to more frustration on the providers’ end. Many of the panel members agreed that testing can be informal because it doesn’t take a lot of investment to see whether someone is proficient.

But does proficiency alone lead to optimized care? One person in the audience asked for the panel members’ thoughts on a point from the upcoming Arch Collaborative Guidebook, which states that “successful organizations go far beyond helping clinicians learn how to effectively put data into the EHR and help them quickly retrieve insights from the EHR.”

In response to that question, David Niland explained that while it is less important to engage doctors in visions of the future, it is important to remember that EMRs can be used in different ways than paper. When EMRs are no longer a problem or barrier to providers, they allow providers to grab data faster.

Healthcare organizations need to be doing a lot of up-front work to make EMR information easy to retrieve. Because once providers are able to access more focused information, they will be able to provide more focused care.

We’re All in This Together

The point of onboarding training isn’t to pit providers against the trainers or the EMRs; the point is to give them the tools for success. But the way to do that looks different for every organization.

During the session, another audience member explained that their organization has worked for a long time to establish workflows for training, but as the organization has grown and changed, it has been hard to disseminate changes and have the trainers apply those changes to the training. In response to this provider’s question, a lot of people provided good suggestions, some of which the provider had actually tried.

In the end, the group wasn’t able to solve the provider’s problem. There was no magic bullet that could eliminate all issues around regulation, communication, and compliance. I think that was a humbling reminder for the group. While many organizations have found things that work for them, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for training. But by collaborating with trainers and providers, organizations can still find the combination of elements that works best for them.



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