Social distancing doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon, especially in healthcare settings. Because healthcare IT implementations are still necessary, hospitals must consider creative ways to move forward on roll-out efforts. EHR training is incredibly important for successful adoption across clinical end-users, and should not be seen as an opportunity for short-cuts. Given the need to avoid in-person classroom training, health systems are opting for virtual EHR training to ensure users are ready for Go-Live and able to provide uninterrupted patient care.

And as none of us are strangers to virtual meetings these days (a la Zoom and others), we’ve likely seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s look at a few helpful tips for delivering professional virtual EHR training that falls into the “good” category and sidesteps the medium distracting from the message.

1: Secure A Quiet Environment For Virtual EHR Training

If we had to isolate one factor as the most detrimental to effective virtual EHR training, it would be sound issues. Whether the trainer’s audio is too loud, too quiet, breaking up, or simply hard to make out due to competing noise, participants will not get the most out of the time they allot for training if the presentation isn’t done from a quiet environment.

EHR trainers should also leverage a virtual training platform that allows for muting attendees individually or in totals, such as Zoom or Webex. Because clinical end users may have a range of technical abilities when it comes to online training for healthcare technologies, putting as much control in the hands of the presenter (or even a designated moderator for large training) is a wise move to minimize distractions, especially in sound.

2: Choose A Neutral, Professional Background For E-Learning Classes

Much as background audio distractions take away from participant focus, so too does a busy or unprofessional visual background. It’s understandable that we’re all doing the best we can in these unexpected times, so working from a home office or even public space (such as a coffee shop) is by no means unprofessional in and of itself. However, if overwhelming clutter, distracting photos/posters/images, or even other people are in view, these elements may compete for attention during virtual EHR training sessions.

A simple, plain wall or background is great, and in a pinch, a room divider or solid blanket can be used to neutralize clutter. (Another option is collaborative and co-work spaces that can be rented as needed.) And whenever possible, opt for facing a window to get natural light on the presenter’s face!

3: Define Expectations For EHR Training Virtually Ahead Of Time

We’ve shared before the importance of communicating value for successful Epic implementations, but it’s worth reiterating that communicating expectations when it comes to EHR training in advance of Go-Live is critical. Training attendees are busy clinicians and support staff, and their time must be respected and utilized well. By setting the stage in advance — via simple, brief messaging, such as bullet points — participants will know what training is meant to accomplish (the goal/value of the EHR implementation), what is expected during attendance (interactive quizzes, test upon completion, live Q&A, etc.), and where to go for questions/concerns.

It’s also wise to specify the time commitment very clearly so that folks know how much time to set aside for training, bearing in mind that one of the common mistakes in virtual training for EHR is making sessions too long. Less is more, so curate content critically and make every minute count.

4: Provide Engaging EHR Training Materials

E-Learning must take into consideration that we all learn differently. Some end-users will absolutely love virtual training, while others will struggle to focus and truly absorb what they’re learning. Offering engaging EHR training materials as an additional resource will provide an extra layer of support for attendees who may need to read a user guide for retention, versus just hearing the info during a virtual presentation. A graphic one-page Quick Start Guide is a great resource for those who tend to be visually motivated and need just a brief reminder to get off and running on their new tools.

Above all, though, making whatever training materials to support EHR training available in an intuitive location is key. If physicians have to endlessly search for what they need in a pinch, then even the best content is wasted. Posting a soft copy of the user guide on the hospitals’ provider portal, virtual desktops, or even laminating a physical copy of the guide at a centralized location keeps the information at their fingertips.

5: Utilize Platform Tools To Streamline Online EHR Training Sessions

Many virtual conference platforms offer an array of tools — even to free accounts — that can make online training sessions for EHR more seamless. Presenters should have a plan for how they will leverage the various settings and tools, and opt for a designated moderator for larger sessions to help manage controls without distracting from the presentation. For example, a moderator could monitor the questions or chat feature to facilitate Q&A periods (which are great “lecture” breaks and encourage engagement with users).

It should also be communicated whether attendees can enable video display on their end or if users will be a list of names only. (There are benefits and drawbacks to both, so a conscious decision must be made for the audience and content.) Remember too, that training sessions can be recorded for ease of review, but it should be stated upfront, especially if attendees are sharing video or speaking at any point.

Utilizing virtual training for EHR implementations is a great way to embrace our current circumstances and support healthcare workers where they are…literally and figuratively. There are plenty of free, easy-to-use tools available to facilitate professional E-Learning classes, and knowing how to best prepare for these presentations will go a long way in empowering clinical end-users for adoption success!