There is no question that the move toward buying and installing a PT practice documentation system is a great move for your practice. The benefits in terms of efficiency, elimination of paperwork and increased revenue generation due to better management of billing practices are many. By even a conservative estimate, the return on investment in better revenue management and reduced costs because of a good PT practice documentation system can be realized quickly.
One aspect of what will happen when you begin the process of changing over from a manual to an automated system is that you must also have a plan in place to educate your staff so that they are ready to take full advantage of the new software system when it is up and running. If you have staff members in your PT practice that have been working with a paper-based documentation system for a long time, you must have a training and orientation process that reduces their anxiety and educates them in how this new system will help make their jobs easier.
Even if a staff member is technically savvy, there are aspects to a PT practice documentation system that will be new to them. For example, people who are good at using the Internet on their own computers commonly are skilled at using single-user systems like Microsoft Suite. A PT practice documentation system allows every member of the staff to access the software together and uses teamwork within the framework of the software system. This is often referred to as “groupware” and it will be a new environment to learn how to use, even for a staff member who considers themselves to be a computer expert.
For this reason, training and orientation to a new PT practice documentation system must be a crucial part of the implementation process. The software package and vendor that you chose to take you through the automation process must be an expert at this part of the transition. It is not good enough to just sell you good software and walk away. The orientation and training process should start long before the physical transition takes place and be ongoing throughout the transition and after the software is in place.
It really is not a process that ever ends. Here are five ways in which you can evaluate that training so that you will know that the training will be successful in taking your staff into this new and modern solution to your PT practice documentation issues.
- There are four measurements for whether the training of your staff is effective and you can apply these metrics to a PT practice documentation software supplier during the phase when you are shopping for a system. The training that supports this transition must be efficient, fast, effective and convenient.
Your staff will still have their regular responsibilities to keep up with during the transition. The training program must work around those responsibilities and be done in such a way that doesn’t disrupt your practice or the lives of your staff. The time being used for training must be well used so that the “students” adapt quickly and efficiently. When a training program is fast, that means that it is able to bring your staff up to speed to have the skills they need within the timeframe of the transition schedule.
- A good PT practice documentation training program listens to the people who are there to learn and adjusts the presentation to make sure nobody is left behind. If the training staff will take the time to discuss how the staff of your PT practice feels about this transition and what is important to them, that will go a long way toward helping your staff take ownership over the new system rather than see it as an imposition.
- Training to use a complicated system like a PT practice documentation software package must extend over a period of time. It should be offered over a series of days, weeks or even months because training should extend beyond installation. That time can be used profitably by gathering feedback from staff members to make the remaining training sessions more effective.
- The focus must be on facilitating your staff members to take ownership over the PT practice documentation system. This is a training skill that involves patience and finding the motivations of each staff member so that they can connect to what is great about the new system and why it will make them better at their jobs. Those motivations will vary depending on the experience of the staff member with automation and with their job function, so the priority of helping staff take ownership over their training must be a customized process.
- The training process will help staff members to show accountability for their new knowledge. Any training will use quizzes and tests to make sure that the learners are coming along as training for a good PT practice documentation system must measure their success through the knowledge of the students.
The time to validate that a PT practice documentation system is supported by a well thought-out and implemented training program is before you buy into the system. You are entirely within your rights to ask pointed questions and do as much reference checking and other due diligence so that you know that you are not just buying a good PT practice documentation software solution, you are buying into good support and training as well.
“We have a great relationship with the WebPT team. Going web-based was intimidating at first but the transition went really smooth. WebPT was a great way to transition to electronic without the heavy upfront investment and the WebPT team has let us offer suggestions for improvements that have made it even better for our organization." Damon Whitfield, Clinic Manager, Tim Bondy Physical Therapy