June 18, 2014
New technologies, such as EMRs are exploding the demand for well-qualified staff members. In the past two years, almost every hospital in the country has undergone a system implementation or major upgrade to existing systems to support ICD-10 and Meaningful Use / MIPS.
Unfortunately, because most modern revenue cycle and clinical packages contain workflow functionality that is critical to the successful use of the application, hiring new team members, particularly less experienced ones, poses a challenge. These new team members may understand how to technically perform certain functions, but are at a complete loss to understand how the functions fit into your organization’s work environment.
Training staff on new technologies and how they relate to your environment is critical for instilling the skills you need on your IT team. Once a training process is in place, it can be used to educate new hires, who probably have little knowledge of the workflows in your facility, particularly if they’ve been hired directly from school or from outside the industry.
There are several ways to approach technology training. For platform-specific training, your vendor is most often, the logical choice, although third-party trainers and consultants can provide valuable training as well. For more general IT training, there are a variety of online training solutions. At Phoenix, we use CBT Nuggets to provide training to our Service Desk agents in the various technologies they face as they support multiple hospitals across the country.
Business and IT Knowledge
The traditional source for this training is educational institutions. Many community colleges provide a wealth of classes in general business and IT topics. Internal training is another option, and can be conducted as lunch-time seminars that address important skills.
Specific Health Care and Organizational Knowledge
The seminar approach works well in this situation. Members of your IT staff, as well as leaders from the broader hospital community, can provide training in their specific areas of expertise. Another useful technique is encouraging staff to shadow members of the clinical team as they go through their day – thus expanding your team member’s knowledge of the end user’s needs and workflow. This is effective when addressing less experienced members of your team, particularly those who come from non-healthcare environments.
An effective approach that’s often underutilized is providing training through partnering. In partnering, you team new staff members with a partner/mentor from the existing staff to work on projects together. The new staff with technical knowledge can bring essential technical skills to the partnership. The more experienced team member provides workflow and organizational skills. In this way, each member of the team provides their half of the skill set to the table, and both members learn together as they work.
The Value of Training
Training your existing staff to support new technologies and platforms is one of the most cost effective ways to obtain staff skilled in new technologies. Even if you end up sending a team member off-site for a week of training at a vendor’s location, it is substantially cheaper than what it would cost you to find and hire a new team member with the specific skills and train them in the specifics of your environment.
Performing a formal assessment of your team and their knowledge is an intensive process, but an essential one. It’s our experience that short-staffed hospitals, don’t have the bandwidth to perform the assessment and training. In our roles as interim IT leaders, and providers of full and partial outsourcing, we have the experience to assess workforce capabilities, as well as identify and deliver needed training. If you’re seeking help, let us know.