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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology

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What training materials are available?

What training materials are available?

Training users effectively is key for a successful health IT system implementation.  The lack of appropriate training and support can be important reasons for poor user acceptance and adoption.

As with any technology implementation, careful consideration should be given to the basic IT skills of users as this will guide the training program that you need to develop.  Training should be viewed as an ongoing activity and not something an organization does only as a part of the implementation phase of a new clinical system.

Numerous factors should be considered when developing a comprehensive training plan.  First, training should be customized by user type.  User types include super users, system administrators, IT support staff, clinical providers, office staff and ancillaries.  Training plans must also take into account the varying comfort levels that individuals already have with existing technologies (e.g., computers, handheld devices).  Additionally, training plans should include instructions on how to use the new system, as well as information on how the staff can learn about new or changed policies and procedures.  Trainers must connect with physicians so that clinicians know that there are trustworthy, dedicated IT resources available for assistance.  Ideally, trainers should begin interaction with clinicians and other staff 12 months before go-live and provide information on an ongoing basis.  Then, when the system does go live, the staff knows who to turn to for help.

A comprehensive training plan should include the following:

  • Details on training that will be completed before, during and after go-live
  • Details of the different user roles and training requirements for each of these roles (e.g., healthcare professional, system administrator and super user)
  • Describe how the training will form part of a larger competency program
  • Describe how training will be provided as an ongoing activity.  For example, clinical system training may be part of new employee orientation.

As part of an initial system implementation, vendors often provide a contractually specified amount of training.  However, providers should keep in mind that a help desk or other types of post-go-live support from their vendors may be more difficult to obtain in rural communities.  Therefore, initial training may take on increased importance in rural settings.

In addition to orientating users to the new system, training should include any new policies and procedures that will be implemented, as well as downtime and recovery procedures.  Organizations may need to be creative in how they design their go-live training to accommodate the schedules of busy healthcare professionals.  Training usually commences a few weeks prior to go-live and continues during and immediately after the go-live period.

In general, the use of new clinical systems is predicated on the assumption that most users today have basic computing skills.  As part of the system purchase, an assessment should be done regarding whether users will need any additional computer skills to be effectively trained on the new system.  For example, in order to use the reporting function of some systems, users need training on the Crystal Reports reporting tool.  Vendors should be able to provide details on any additional training that may be required.


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