Heed IPAs' experience before implementing your EMR system

Don't rely on vendor training alone when implementing an electronic medical record system. Instead, develop internal training teams that include physician leaders, finds a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

The study examined the activities of five independent practice associations (IPAs) and found that small, independent practices can benefit from the expertise of IPAs when it comes to adopting EMR systems. 

For example, many IPA respondents noted that the training offered by vendors was "inadequate" to get new EMR systems up and running and ultimately developed their own in-house training. Their advice: Allow plenty of room for back-and-forth discussions between technical experts, physicians and practice staff.

The study also revealed that identifying physician leaders was an important factor in bridging the gap between technology and clinical care among small practices. The leaders--physicians who believed in HIT adoption and understood how it could enhance clinical practice--had an ongoing role convincing other physicians that HIT adoption is feasible and beneficial in the long run.

As for the in-house training rather than vendor-provided tutorials, the study found that IPAs did a better job because “[u]nlike software vendors, IPAs’ relationships with members are consistent and usually long term.” 

For more information:
- see the report
- read this Information Week article