Working in healthcare is complicated, and the vast variety of electronic medical record (EMR) systems certainly does not help.
EMRs have been a great advancement — paper filing could only go so far, after all. But although they have simplified and automated clinical tasks for utmost efficiency, they can be difficult to master. There’s rarely any consistency between systems, and many physicians and other medical professionals have full caseloads, leaving little time for adjustment.
It’s no wonder, then, that providers in locum tenens roles are sometimes hesitant to move on and become acquainted with yet another EMR. Every hospital, clinic, and facility is different, and each has its own processes and information systems.
Veteran locums have developed a familiarity with certain systems and patterns from their work in facilities nationwide, but providers new to locums, or those who may still be contemplating the switch, shouldn’t let learning different EMR systems scare them off. It’s wiser to look at it as an opportunity to build your skill set and enhance your career.
Facing different EMR software is hardly an obstacle capable of deterring talent of the caliber drawn to locums staffing, however. To perform straight out of the gate, as locums are expected to do, providers must develop some broad-based knowledge of practical and common computer skills.
EMR Advice for Locum Providers
A KevinMD article by Dr. Edwin Leap suggests that the incredible variety of EMR systems available is mind-numbing. There are so many in use it’s almost impossible to know each one. However, it’s conceivable (and a smart idea) to study as many as possible.
According to the article, facilities look at each CV to gain a sense of the candidate’s familiarity with their system. This means you should list the EMRs you have experience with, along with the facilities at which you used them. The more EMR software a locum physician, NP, or PA knows, the better chance they have of getting hired.
Most EMR products are designed to format data for expedited billing. Interpreting what happened with a patient is more difficult, though. That’s why dictating notes into the EMR system is so important, Leap writes. Because much of the medical field involves recording and interpreting the patient’s story, it’s crucial to take careful notes during every stage of an exam or appointment.
Flexibility is key to successfully adopting and using a new EMR system. Being a locum provider requires trying out different systems, both those you love and those you find difficult to use. By knowing several systems’ strengths and faults, you reduce the likelihood that you’ll have to learn on the fly.
Locums who build up their EMR comfort are better able to focus on treating patients. And that’s exactly what care facilities are looking for when they turn to locum tenens staffing.
What Successful Locum Onboarding Looks Like
Being prepared to succeed in a new hospital or care facility isn’t entirely the locum’s responsibility, either. Onboarding requires careful planning on the hospital’s part to ensure new medical professionals are able to perform to their fullest potential.
The best onboarding programs are ones where a brief overlap exists between current and new providers. Facilities should allow at least one day for a shared transition between a current provider and the locum who will be taking his or her place. Shadowing a doctor who is comfortable, familiar, and knowledgeable about the facility gives the locum more time to adjust to the environment and culture. If an in-person meeting isn’t possible (for instance, if the locum is filling a vacancy because of an emergency), a phone call should still be arranged.
Of equal, if not greater, importance is training the locum physician on the EMR system. While hospital culture and procedures are generally easy enough to adjust to, properly navigating EMR systems — especially ones the provider hasn’t seen before — can be a big challenge. That’s where the onboarding program comes in.
Familiarizing Locums With EMR
Locum clinicians are some of the brightest, most talented practitioners the medical field has to offer. To ensure they aren’t bogged down in delays or errors with a new EMR system, hospitals should work with their IT departments to supply incoming locum providers with login and password information long before they arrive. Once locums are on site, the IT staff should guide them through the system. This will give each provider the opportunity to ask questions and work out potential wrinkles without costing the facility time and money.
Onboarding is the flip side of the locum-education coin. While locum providers are responsible for having basic, practical knowledge of EMR systems, facilities need to back that up with IT support and, if possible, in-person shadowing. Familiarity with different EMRs will guarantee that medical professionals hit the ground running, as comfortable in their new workplace as their new workplace is with them.