Which EHR Are Available for Education?

I remember 5 or more years ago writing about the need for EHR software to be available as part of a healthcare IT and medical education. Adding EHR education to a medical education is a much larger question we won’t discuss here (Where would you fit it?), but there’s a need for EHR software to be available for those in education.

This came to mind recently for two reasons. First, someone reached out to me to ask if there was an EHR that they could use as part of an EHR course that they’d created. It had been so long since I’d thought of the subject, I couldn’t remember the exact programs that were out there. I vaguely remembered Practice Fusion having a program (makes sense that a Free EHR would make their EHR available to education) for education and someone else (maybe Amazing Charts?). I’ve also known a number of the ONC funded community college programs using some form of Vista (the free open source EHR) in their program. However, I’d heard some bad reviews from people who had that experience. My guess is that they used a plain vanilla install of Vista and that wouldn’t likely mimic the real world.

Since the answer to my friend was pretty awful, I told her that I’d blog about it and see if there were other EHR vendors who would be willing to offer their EHR as part of an EHR course or other education endeavor. Just drop a comment on this post or let me know on the contact us page if you’d like me to connect you with my friend.

The second reason this was of interest to me is that one of my heroes (spiritual, business, and life) is now the President of a business college. I recently got a chance to have lunch with him and he asked about whether they should create a program that taught healthcare technology. They already had a medical coding course and wondered if health IT would be a good place to expand.

My answer to him was simple. If he could convince Epic or Cerner to let his students come away with an Epic or Cerner certification, then he should go for it. My only partial concern was that these graduates would come away with an Epic or Cerner certification, but only an associates degree. That might cause a problem for healthcare HR departments which often have Bachelor’s degree as a requirement to work at the hospital. I think most HR departments at hospitals would be perplexed how someone was Epic certified, but didn’t have a bachelor’s degree. However, they could probably work something out.

Having run the Healthcare IT Central job board for a number of years now, I know first hand the value of an Epic or Cerner certification. Is there another EHR certification (or experience) that’s really valuable and sought after out there? MEDITECH probably comes the closest. There is still quite a bit of demand for that expertise. Are there others you’re having problems filling?

Let me look at this another way. Which EHR systems would be valuable as part of an EHR course? Is the knowledge general enough that you could work on most of the EHR systems and switch to the next system? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

No doubt, demand for experience in these various EHR systems is going to be high. Although, what’s the right pathway for someone new to healthcare IT or new to EHR? Should we be training new health IT professionals in schools on these EHR? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

9 Comments

  • It’s an interesting question, but unfortunately the EHR vendors would never allow it. They still think people will copy their systems or something illogical like that. I have a number of consultants or would-be consultants ask me quite often how they can get certification in Vendor X and I have to explain to them the loop which keeps them out.

  • Sorry – not have been in touch recently; good post. Yes; the in-patient EHR’s may not be as welcoming of outsiders, especially students/lecturers/schools having full access to their system. And I see the pain of getting through to EPIC; probably Cerner is better bet.

    I see it as a two part course wherein the schools might want to focus on Ambulatory EHR and PMS in its entirety for Year 1 and go to the in-patient EHR for Year 2. That might give them the lead of an year to work with the likes of Cerner to get the necessary approvals and also train the trainers.

    More than happy to assist any of the colleges wanting to use the Ambulatory EHR for their students education and training. Cheers

  • Yes; the in-patient EHR’s may not be as welcoming of outsiders, especially students/lecturers/schools having full access to their system. And I see the pain of getting through to EPIC; probably Cerner is better bet.

    I see it as a two part course wherein the schools might want to focus on Ambulatory EHR and PMS in its entirety for Year 1 and go to the in-patient EHR for Year 2. That might give them the lead of an year to work with the likes of Cerner to get the necessary approvals and also train the trainers.

    More than happy to assist any of the colleges wanting to use the Ambulatory EHR for their students education and training. Cheers

  • I’m not as familiar with the education process for Cerner, but I personally experienced the education hurdles with Epic. It’s incredibly modular – I hold several Epic builder certifications, and learning how to use Epic Inpatient is very little like using Ambulatory or ASAP (ED). Point being, how valuable is one certification, or education of one module? Hard to answer. I agree with Anthony Subbiah – start with Ambulatory, and you’ll at least obtain the backbone.

    Epic doesn’t hand out certifications like candy, likely a factor why they are so valuable. I, too, worry about a course that delivered certifications but lacked a full health bachelors degree.

    Finally, I think you’d be asking a giant like Epic to tailor their certification process – what skills do you want your students to walk away with? I’m not sure the current certification process is the answer!

  • OpenEMR (open-emr.org) is not just available but being heavily used in many education environments for ambulatory care classes. Notably University of Texas uses it heavily in lots of different ways.

    OHSU uses Epic and VistA. Many community colleges are using both those and Practice Fusion for HIT training and certification.

  • Aaron,
    You’re right about many fearing that someone will “steal” something from their software. It’s just ridiculous since if an EHR vendor wants access to another EHR vendors software, they’ll find a way. I know. I’ve seen it.

    Catherine,
    Thanks for sharing. I’ll forward your note on to my contact.

    Anthony,
    Welcome back! You’ve been missed. It’s not a bad strategy to start with ambulatory and then do in-patient in year 2. Although, many people are just trying to get 1 EHR incorporated into education.

    Megan,
    I think most people want their students to get a job. An Epic or Cerner certification would certainly open a lot of doors in that regard.

    Tony,
    Good to hear. I should have mentioned them as well as Vista. Being open source of course they can use it. I’m glad to hear that many are using it.

  • John, you may recall that I wrote hear about my frustration with the Federally sponsored HealthIT training, whose only hands on with an EHR was a few hours with the (downloadable) demo of Vista CPRS at home, and actually ‘loading it’ in a college lab. This training that the Feds paid for led absolutely nowhere. I’d suggested that it would have been better if the institutions doing these courses could have worked with local hospitals to get internships, though I’m not sure that the EHR vendors like EPIC would even allow HealthIT interns at a hospital to use their software (regardless of training level and real world experience of those involved).

    My feeling is that by making it so hard to get trained, the vendors help maintain a share of the EHR consulting market. Which of course makes the cost of implementing and maintaining an ERH so much more expensive that it really needs to be.

  • R Troy,
    Are you saying that Epic opening its own consulting services is a way for them to make more money in an environment where they’ve driven up the price for such consulting services?

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