Hour-long monthly sessions where health care professionals shared best electronic medical record practices with their peers — dubbed by the session creators as “EMR Happy Hours” — often improved physician efficacy and efficiency in maintaining those records, according to a recent report in Annals of Family Medicine.
“The challenges of EMR training are twofold: (1) even the most easily adopted EMR innovations and features must be communicated effectively to existing users, and (2) time pressures result in an inertia with regard to workflows and habits of existing users,”
Margaret A. Day, MD, MSPH , and Jeffrey L. Belden, MD, professors of family and community medicine at the University of Missouri Health System, wrote.
During EMR Happy Hour, health care professionals discuss how they reduced their documentation burden, then rearrange the EMR of the other participants. In one session, they created a Google document consisting of frequently used text expansion phrases so that the information could be copied, changed as needed and easily accessible, according to Day and Belden.
“An unexpected outcome is that all participants, clinician and EMR trainer facilitators included, learn something new during the sessions. Surveying participants, we learned they valued peer support in particular, feeling less isolated while learning alongside others who share their plight,” they wrote.
Belden explained other benefits to EMR Happy Hour in an interview with Healio Primary Care.
“We learn little time-savers together. We each can feel delighted to know that ‘I knew something even my super user peers didn’t know’ about EMR efficiency steps. One tip learned might save 20 minutes a day for the rest of a record-keeping career. We also discover issues like bugs or misconfigurations that need the information technology department to repair or we discover that the physician user has a software setting that’s not right, making life much harder. We fix those problems on the spot, in a minute or 2,” he said.
“Sometimes we have a Happy Hour agenda and sometimes we drop that agenda to meet the needs that are brought to the session. That flexibility is key, and shows we are there to meet the attendees at their level of need. All of this can help alleviate burnout systems,” Belden added.
The biggest barrier to implementing EMR Happy Hour was finding a time that suited all participants, but this was overcome by holding the session in conjunction with faculty or staff meetings, he said. – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.