Is your EHR an automobile or a tricycle? The quick-start myth

Many doctors say, “I want a no-brainer of an EMR that is easy to learn and is very cheap, free if possible. In fact, I want to try it out without any reading or training whatsoever.”  Be careful what you wish for: you are bound to get it!

No one would argue that it is easier to learn to ride a tricycle than to drive an automobile.  Few, however, would claim that a tricycle is more usable – at least, we don’t see many adults driving tricycles to work these days.  Indeed, tricycles are so simple that three year-olds can use them without training, while many of us spent a semester in high school learning how to drive a car.  Completely free of context, therefore, a tricycle is more “intuitive,” even more “usable,” than a car. However, a tricycle’s quick learning curve is easily overshadowed by the automobile’s superior power and functionality.

For these reasons, when an EHR promises that you can “learn in minutes” or “be up and running instantly,” take a second look.

All of the best EHRs require training – in fact, studies show that the level of EHR satisfaction is directly correlated to the amount of training users have undergone.  The better you know your EHR, the more it will do for you, the more satisfied you will be.  On the other hand, EHR users with the least amount of training are generally the least satisfied. Many of the best EHRs cannot be learned in just five minutes, but they are superior tools that will do more for your practice.  Take time to learn your EHR, and you will be rewarded.

Don’t be distracted by the appeal of the quick (or “instant”) start-up.  Instead, take a look at what the EHR can do for you on a day-to-day basis after suitable training.  If a program were to save you two hours a day for the rest of your professional life, how much time would be reasonable to learn how to use it right? This is the real question to ask yourself and your EHR vendor.