Six quick tips for engaging your practice with your new EHR

The importance of employee engagement is recognized as a crucial to a successful organization. Engagement encompasses a set of attitudes and behaviors in which Gallup defines in its State of the global workplace report as “employees willingly go the extra mile, work with passion, and feel a profound connection to their company.” The concept of employee engagement with an organization is borne out of the same set of attitudes and behaviors as that of engagement with an EHR. Therefore, in the context of EHR engagement, engaged employees have a stake in using an EHR as a tool to better an organization.

However, the ultimate challenge rests in how to engage your employees given that people often find working with new technology difficult to get used to, and develop unhelpful workarounds, which reduce any long-term benefit. How can you avoid this? The following six quick tips offer ways to encourage staff engagement with your EHR:

Plan for engagement during implementation planning

The planning stages before implementing an EHR provide a great opportunity to set the foundation for engaging staff in the value and EHR can offer a practice. Planning for engage involves incorporating stakeholders in the planning process and a training program that places those stakeholders in a position to succeed.

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Examine workflow

If an EHR causes problems with existing workflow, staff will logically look to adapt by engaging in workarounds and likely view the EHR as a hindrance to getting work done rather than as a tool to make work easier. If workflow issues arise, examine how to reduce to eliminate redundant or time-consuming processes. A workflow analysis may be needed in this case to identify problems and determine solutions.

Personalize training 

Well-planned training can help staff master an EHR and use it to their advantage, however when training is conducted in a one size fits all manner and not personalized to individual learning style valuable time is wasted and worse staff may suffer from overload and likely not retain what is needed.

Use motivation and rewards

Healthcare staff may be reluctant to advance their EHR skills beyond what is needed to complete required tasks. To encourage staff to move beyond the bare minimum with regard to competency and use of the system positive motivation through a rewards or recognition system can offer an extra boost toward engagement.  

Use collaboration

Technology can be frustrating for those whose primary focus in an organization is to provide healthcare services not master the nuances of an EHR. Using peers who have advanced skills in the EHR - ‘superusers’ in other words, provides both team building and can help users who may be reluctant to buy-in to the benefits of making the most of the EHR.  

Present the EHR as a valuable asset

Staff should understand that an EHR, when used to its full advantage is an organizational asset that not only can improve productivity, but also reduce risk and improve quality of care. When viewed as another tool to help patients staff are more likely to become more engaged with the EHR.

Engagement with an EHR is a process that involves a significant amount of planning and collaborative effort. Furthermore, since engagement is a set of attitudes and behavior it is important to understand that each person will respond differently to engagement efforts. Moving the process along may require flexibility and a measure of trial and error to determine what works and what does not work.

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green