Simulation: A way to achieve proficiency in EMR adoption

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Heather Haugen, Ph.D.
Heather Haugen, Ph.D.

By 2020, the number of Americans needing long-term care services will rise to 12 million. With this upsurge in patients in need of care, it is even more important for long-term care facilities to implement electronic medical records (EMRs). 

However, the rate of EMR adoption among long-term care and post-acute care facilities has been described as “dismally low.” In fact, a study by Health Affairs in 20121 found that only six percent of long-term care facilities had a basic EMR system in place.

Meaningful use requirements state that physicians must be able to send and receive care summaries during transitions to all healthcare settings, including long-term and post-acute care facilities. So how can these facilities implement an EMR system and then help users achieve proficiency quickly and effectively? The answer lies in role-based simulation.

Simulation provides an opportunity to practice in a real-life environment without real-life risks and consequences. Caregivers learn within their actual EMR application, focusing only on tasks that are applicable to their specific roles. For example, long-term care practitioners learn to document an assessment but are spared from training on functionality that does not apply to their role. Role-based simulators shorten the learning curve by ensuring caregivers are proficient in the use of the system, leaving them ultimately feeling confident enough with the technology to adopt and use it to provide care.

A simulated approach makes sense for the long-term care community because caregivers are often part of a mobile workforce and not located in one central place. The flexibility offered by a simulated training course that is specific to the user by role is important in this area because thousands of people can be trained easily and quickly on their own time – and from anywhere with an internet connection.

Our research shows that providers who use simulation technology experience adoption rates of up to 70% higher compared to traditional training approaches. Information technology that is taught, then recalled and reinforced immediately by experiential activities is the fastest way to achieve proficiency.  

The most valuable asset in achieving and maintaining adoption is end users who are proficient and confident using the EMR. Give these users the opportunity to become proficient in the tasks they use to serve patients and they will quickly adopt the new technology.

Heather Haugen, Ph.D., is the senior vice president, research, development and IT, at The Breakaway Group, a erox Company.

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