How Much Training is Enough?

Last week’s article – All EMR Software is the Same got a very good response. I got interesting feedback, one of which is about training. They asked me about the different approaches various vendors take on the subject of training.
I’m assuming we are talking about Web-based EMR software that is based on a monthly subscription fee. I have seen two models – one where a vendor does not charge any ‘upfront’ fee, and another where a vendor charges an upfront fee for training but their monthly fee is lower. Which one is better?

Before we look into “which one is better”, I’d like to talk about the fundamental differences in approaching Training that have a profound effect on how training is imparted.

No Upfront Fee model

If there is no upfront fee involved, a business tends to look at Training as a ‘cost center’ – an expense that a company has to deal with. We know that financial accountants and business owners try to minimize expenses. By direct implication, they cut corners. The quality of training tends to suffer. There is a general lack of ‘incentive’ for the management as well as employees since there is no ‘accountability’.

As they say, there is no free lunch. In spite of the ‘no upfront’ fee label, guess what, you’re paying for it- financially by raising the monthly fee or in terms of quality.

What I fail to understand is why providers fall for this.

In fact, I venture to say that Training and implementation are more important than the software system itself. A bold statement, yes, but I want to stress the importance of not compromising Training because Quality and Quantity are both important.

Upfront Training Fee model

I urge you to look into this model because of two very simple reasons.

  1. The company is accountable and responsible for doing adequate training within a timeframe. Since this is a source of ‘revenue’, they are liable to hold their employees accountable for the quality of training satisfaction.
  2. Second, it holds you and your staff accountable – you have a set number of hours to get trained in. You and your staff better pay attention and learn as much as you can.

Another Model

Seek out unlimited training options if available. I guarantee that not many companies will offer it. In fact, try to do this – put a ‘penalty clause’ if training is not scheduled within a stipulated timeframe.

The next best thing is, to have the option to buy training ‘on demand’.

How much Training?

Here’s a guideline that I have created and found useful after many years of experience. This is based on practice sizes of 1-5 providers. There is variability in individual experience with technology, tech savviness, etc.

Before Starting with the system, but after the system has been set up and customized 8-16 hours
1 Month after going live 4-8 hours
Month 2-6 4 hours per month
Months 6-12 2 hours per month

What this means is that in the first year, you need between 44-56 hours of training, however,

Training works best if…

The Vendor and your Practice work in the spirit of ‘Partnership’ rather than an adversarial ‘client/customer/supplier’ relationship.

What does this mean? How do you determine whether or not a relationship is a true ‘Partnership’?

A good partnership begins with the first call to your web-based software system supplier (prospective partner). Here are some examples of indicators:

  • When you call and leave a message, how are you treated? How soon is your call returned?
  • Does the company attempt to answer your questions, ask you about your concerns, or just try to sell you their system?
  • Do you answer their questions in a professional manner? Do you return the salesperson’s calls? If not, why not?
  • Do you show up on time for online demos and meetings? If not, why not? Don’t some practices charge patients for ‘no-shows’? So, let’s treat each other equally.
  • When trainers are there in your office or online, do you spare time for them and really give them full attention?
  • Does the Company support staff give you their best attention and care as you would to your patient?

Now you know what I am talking about.

So, don’t skimp corners when it comes to training and, please, strive to establish a true partnership. If there are genuine financial reasons why you can’t afford a system that you truly like, tell them. They may work out something for you. But at the very least, have the courtesy of telling them why you can’t partner with them. No one is going to hound you for your decisions. There may be a few ‘used car salespeople’ out there, but by large, they want to help you.

Author: Chandresh Shah

Chandresh Shah specializes in Healthcare IT and Medical Billing. He knows the market inside out; what works, what doesn’t. He advises and works with small business owners.

One thought on “How Much Training is Enough?”

  1. […] Training is precisely the Wrong place to cut costs. It actually costs you more in the long run to cut training costs. I wrote an article in February 2013 about this. […]

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