Todd Stansfield has a really great guest blog post over on EMR and HIPAA where he writes about “Learning by Doing.” While this principle applies to a lot of parts of life, I agree with Todd that it’s absolutely valuable when doing EHR training.
I was particularly intrigued by the process that Todd and The Breakaway Group use to train on EHR. I know they have a bunch of researchers at The Breakaway Group that have worked hard to understand the right way to train. However, what struck me is that I found exactly the same thing in my experience training users on EHR.
When I was working my full time job managing, implementing, upgrading, etc the EHR, I was also assigned to train any new staff that got hired by our clinic. Because of our clinic’s relationship with the local medical school and some general staff turnover, I got quite good at training new users on the EHR.
My process was really simple. I would first train the users on the workflow through the EHR. Then, to reinforce what I taught, I would have them go through the same workflow (ie. learning by doing). After I’d shown them what to do, they usually had to stumble through what I’d just taught them. However, once they stumbled through the second time and actually did it themselves, I can’t remember them ever asking me how to do it again. It was really quite amazing to watch. The questions I would get later were more about why, how, or advanced functionality.
Trust me, this is not an easy thing to do. When I was in the second phase of EHR training where I let them do it directly on the EHR, I had to really control my urge to just show them the solution. Sometimes I would literally stand up and walk away from the computer to prevent myself from just showing them how to do it. It’s almost irresistible to step in and do it. However, I had to resist that urge and let them fail and explore a little bit for them to really understand how it worked.
Of course, there’s a point where you might need to step in, because they just flat out don’t remember. That’s fine, but then that often means they’ll need to do that same step again so they don’t forget.
I saw first hand the concept of learning by doing. It’s a powerful one and more EHR vendors should employ it in their EHR training.