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E-Medical Record Professionals in Short Supply Not Enough Trench Workers Available – Ask A CIO What He Thinks

Posted Feb 10 2010 10:43pm

Of course here with my blog I spend less time out in the field than I used tobut let me tell you there is nothing better than time in the field for a good learning experience.  That is still what gives me direction today.  When you work as a partner with a physician to create a solution there’s a lot of listening and change going on constantly.  In this business it helps to know it from the bottom up.  With so many software systems and network configurations out there today I am still explaining to folks we have long passed Windows 95 and 98but those two operating systems changed the way we function with PCsas after Windows 95 came outwe all wanted one a home and some of those processed that people learned in the early days are still therewhich is not a bad thingI just can no longer answer a question of a couple sentences like I used toit’s more complicated.

When it comes to EHR systems it is almost very hard to create “training standards” with all the various vendors we have out there today and different software programs.  Againas mentioned in this articlethere’s a lot of money be thrown this direction which is a good thingbut will the proof of concept deliver?  This is what we are looking ata concept that is well financed. 

I had an off the cuff discussion not too long ago with an individual who does medical record training at Kaisermy curiosity at work here.  He said it took time and it is something you grow withnot only the clinical staff but the trainers too.  There are upgrades and system changes that take place and he’s in training a bit of time so he can go out and train.  He also stated the difference in addressing different departmentspersonalities and the challenges.  Some are more open and catch on quickly and some have a lot more questions and need more time. Also while he’s out there he gets questions and suggestions for improvementso that’s all part of the job toonot just running a classroom experience. 

Being this is healthcare there’s a lot of variables and the word “change” is upon us daily.  Kaiser is unique in the fact that they anticipate some of this and have an innovation department that helps solve a lot of problems and issues before they occur and systems are implemented.  Being a non profit they can do this and invest in their personnel rather than fighting for the bottom line dividends all the time.  He’s also a patient and loves the PHR they have.  Within a few hours he can pull up his lab results by logging on when he gets home.  Last year I chatted with Chris McCarthy from the Kaiser Innovation Departmentand learned quite a bit about how they look at the future and anticipate technology and issues before they arise.  This model is also being used by the NHS and other hospital groups.

Back on target herethese are the types of individuals that help make it work as it’s not as simple as running a “training army” out there to carry out commandsand you have to be ready for that new left hook that will throw you off balance every dayit’s there and we need to live with it.  This is probably why many of the CIOs feel they are not staffed the way they would like as they work with technology and understand this fact and it comes back around to the same old thing I say all the time “hands on experience” coupled with knowledge creates better value and gets the job done and we end up with better healthcare all the way around. 

As a whole and a nation one big battle we face all the time is participation with what I call “Magpie Healthcare”, educated individuals working from a “proof of imageconcept” standpoint rather than being part of the experience themselves.  Healthcare is for everyonenot a like a car which you can choose to own or not own.  I see this all the time with elaborate blogsdocumentsyou name it and it is very disappointing to see less participation.  The style of writing is one thing that usually is a “dead” give awaybut this is not to say there may not be some valuable information insidebut the undertones of the article usually seem to indicated “it’s for those guys over there” instead of an all round effort.  This is why the web is so popular when you think about it as you have the opportunity to speak and connect with those who you find do have first hand information to offer.  BD    

If you listened closely enoughyou could almost hear a "whoops" emanate from Washington after the initial post-ARRA (American Recovery and  Reconstruction Act) euphoria wore off last fall. By that pointthe healthcare IT industry had fully digested the massive pill and got a good sense of where the Meaningful Use bar would be set. Now the question on everyone's lips is"Wellhow are we actually going to do all that stuff?"

If people could get their minds around the financial aspects of paying for the softwarethey then came up against another obstacle. The people needed to implement electronic medical records and other advanced clinical systems just don't exist. I don't mean to say none of them existbut the generally thrown-around estimates put the number at 50,000 and there just aren't that many EMR experts out there.

So how to create the EMR-savvy health IT workforce of tomorrow that's actually needed today? Wellthe Office of the National Coordinator for HIT is certainly throwing a lot of green at the problem. By my count$118 million of taxpayer money is being used to devise training programs that teach HIT skillsand develop tests that verify the knowledge has been absorbed.

The question will soon become: have these programs produced people who can actually do the work that's needed in the trenches? Can they create the other 10 people that my CIO friend was pleading for? Andmost importantlycan they do it all in the next two yearswhen they'll be most sorely needed?

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