Providers Aren’t Taking EMR Training Seriously Enough

As we noted in a previous post, the latest group of EMR buyers have gotten savvy about support.  As a new study suggests, more than ever, providers are choosing vendors who offer a great deal of handholding.  And that’s probably a good idea, according to Michael Patmas of the American College of Healthcare Executives.  Below,  here’s some of his thoughts on EMR and CPOE project failures.

I have had the unfortunate experience of being in two organizations that had EMR and / or CPOE implementation failures as well as one organization that was successful. A key learning for me was the need to adequately fund training and support. Too often, implementation plans are driven by the vendor who tend to under emphasize the training needs. Simply providing a few hours of hands on training for the physicians is not enough. The real training begins after one flips the switch and providers have to actually work with the system in real time during clinical encounters. That’s when having trainers available to sit with and coach the providers is essential. In every implementation failure I have seen, the organizations under-invested in training and ongoing support.

Sadly, though, many providers seem to cross  their fingers and hope a little training will somehow diffuse automatically into the organization.  This is a dangerously irresponsible stance, but it’s all too common.

In fact,  at three separate community hospitals, I’ve personally witnessed doctors and nurses huddled together over an EMR workstation trying to teach each other how to use the system.  If it made me squirm — under these circumstances, serious  errors like misdocumenting drug allergies are all but inevitable — hospital leaders should be terrified, shouldn’t they?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • Funny, no one trained me to use Keynote, Pages, or Final Cut Pro. Maybe it could be the lousy buggy clunky software designed by people with no domain expertise or understanding of workflow?

  • I think this training system worked pretty well. One of the keys to our success is that we have a well defined process for using the EMR.

  • While I do believe everyone (vendors and providers alike) skimps on EHR training, part of the problem is getting busy healthcare professionals to make themselves ready and open for training. Organizations need to adopt a culture of a “learning organization” with early and often engagement of all clinicians. Once it is time for hands-on training, users then are more educated, workflow changes will have been anticipated, and users will be more open to embracing change – and I’ve found that then the training doesn’t even need to be so long!

  • Margret,
    You’re right. Getting busy clinicians to embrace the training can be a terrible problem. I think it all starts with the EHR selection and getting clinical buy-in at that point. Then, the clinicians have some skin in the game since they selected the EHR and they want to see it implemented successfully.

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