Training Physicians to Use Telemedicine Software: What You Need to Know About User Training
Most formal education is slow to adapt to include changing technologies as a standard part of coursework. The same is true of medicine, where medical schools have yet to fully recognize the growing telemedicine and e-record reality of the modern healthcare facility. This is also true of nursing schools and continuing education training. With how quickly telehealth has grown, this is not too surprising. However, the result is the same: providers have no training on these technologies.
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The AMA recognizes that this presents a true gap in provider knowledge. In 2016, they released a statement regarding policy that requires telemedicine training for all residents. The new electronic reality of healthcare must be taken into account as providers ensure they offer patients the quality care they deserve while also meeting patient expectations regarding said care.
Even though the AMA set the policy for tech training, that doesn't help healthcare providers currently working in the field. If implementing telemedicine software, you must provide user training. Luckily, you have choices. Colleges and universities offer telemedicine courses. Or, you can bring a trainer into your facility, or take advantage of some online training options. Don't forget that you also need to train patients to use the technology.
Training Healthcare Providers in New Technologies
Once you choose a telemedicine software system, you must ensure your users know how to use it to ensure the technology integrates seamlessly with your workflow. Most systems are fairly simple to employ, but training allows your team to fully learn, and take advantage of, the software's complete capabilities.
The ideal training program goes beyond operator instructions into integrating the software with current workflows and how to link online consultations to your existing processes. In addition to basic training for your full team, consider in-depth training to create "super users" within your practice, employees who can train and assist others during the early stages of providing telehealth services. Or, you may prefer to go the super user route from the beginning, assigning those users training duties for the rest of staff.
You can also find accredited telemedicine integration courses at many colleges and universities. Or, embrace the new online reality of telehealth with an online training and resources from the American Telemedical Association. Expect curricula for these courses to cover:
- Billing and reimbursement for telemedicine
- Defining telemedicine subcategories, including store and forward and the difference between telehealth and telemedicine
- HIPAA compliance
- How to perform a live remote consultation
- Marketing to gain new patients and expand your telehealth program
- Onboard training
- Optimizing the technology
- Policies and procedures for proper implementation and utilization, including patient forms, HIPAA protocols, and workflows
- Telemedicine software and equipment
- Videoconferencing etiquette
Designing Staff Training
The key component of successful training is careful planning. The following steps help you create a solid training plan
Step 1: Who Needs to be Trained?
Start by deciding who needs training. Of course, clinical staff who provide telecare require training, but you may also have IT and administrative staff who would benefit from training. Also note that not all staff require the same level of training.
Step 2: Find a Super User
Within this list of staff, appoint at least one super user, preferably someone who will use the system regularly and has the ability to train others. Depending on the size of your practice, you may want more than one super user, since this is the person other staff members will come to with questions. Your super user is also the natural choice to be the main point of contact between your practice and the vendor.
Step 3: Create an FAQ Resource for Staff
This is a living document that you can start creating before your first training session, particularly if your vendor already has an FAQ resource. Typically, these documents make a great starting point to begin brainstorming your own list of questions (with the help of expected users).
Note that this is a "living" document. It can – and should – change. During training, have someone record all questions that staff ask. During rollout, you likely face new questions, as well as after updates. As questions arise, answer them and update the FAQ. Then, of course, you must share this document with staff, either electronically or physically. This creates a valuable resource for your team, and protects your super user from repeatedly answering the same questions.
Step 4: Offer Training Boosts
Once you launch your new software, expect staff to require additional training and support. You may also find you have need for additional training once you begin working remotely with patients. Additional training may also be needed after software updates or when launching a new