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Docs need more EHR training, survey suggests


By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: October 21, 2011 - 12:00 pm ET
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Physicians need at least three to five days of training to feel satisfied with their electronic health-record system, and being able to easily use the EHR functions required for meaningful-use incentive bonuses took two weeks of training—but almost half of the doctors responding to a recent survey reported that they received three days or less of EHR training.

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The survey was conducted by AmericanEHR Partners, an online community developed by the American College of Physicians and Cientis Technologies, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based developer of online tools. Between April 2010 and July 2011, physicians from five different medical societies completed a 139-question online survey with the results being compiled in a new report Correlation of Training Duration With EHR Usability and Satisfaction: Implications For Meaningful Use (Free registration is required for download.).

The report stated that the findings of previous surveys were confirmed as participating physicians noted a higher level of satisfaction if they had a hand in selecting the system they used. “It is conceivable that ‘involved' individuals represent more sophisticated users of technology, prior EHR users involved in new decisions, or just a self-selected sample of highly motivated clinicians,” the report stated. “Despite the uncertainty of its cause, the finding is potentially an important factor to consider and is therefore included in the analyses presented.”

The survey also found that “ease of use” ratings continued to increase with two or more weeks of training on basic EHR functions such as maintaining drug allergy lists and checking for harmful drug interactions when prescribing new medications. According to the survey, at least one week of training was needed for doctors to easily use such meaningful-use functions as obtaining a medication list from another source.

“We were surprised to find that almost 50% of respondents received three or fewer days of training given the complexity of current EHR systems and the pressure to achieve meaningful use,” the researchers concluded, adding that the low level of training was highest for physicians in the larger practices.

Almost 70% of the 2,338 completed surveys (69%) were received from groups with 10 or fewer clinicians, causing the authors to caution that the results may be skewed toward smaller practices. The researchers then excluded results from 402 respondents for a variety of reasons including the use of non-certified EHRs (including 23 “self-built” systems), the use of inpatient systems, or the use of government systems such as the Veterans Affairs Department's VistA system.


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