If you are not taking advantage of software training today, you are in fact helping to sink health care IT. This is a subject dear to my heart in the fact that I see this every day.

As the world is rapidly changing around us and IT continues to grow at a rapid rate, training seems to be the last issue at heart, when in fact it should be number one. In some areas, the software is very inexpensive, however, the training costs can be quadruple the cost of the software itself.

After spending a large amount of time on selecting the software to work in your organization, don’t skimp on training, or you will end up with users not utilizing new procedures and not have a successful implementation, and the bottom line will not allow for a good ROI for your time and efforts.

In my travels, I see this frequently, even with staff not even using Microsoft Office to it’s fullest, or not knowing which product to use to create the type of document they desire and time after time, it takes up much more time than necessary to either re-create the document in another format, or in many instances, the data may not be re-useable in other areas.

Most are familiar with MS Word and see it as the answer to all their needs, when in fact, there are better and more efficient solutions right at hand and basic training on MS Office would allow one to perhaps use another solution for the information they want to create. MS Word is not a data base, but is a word processing program, not made to store data in re-useable tables and requires human manipulation to transfer non ASCII text into other software. Word can be used in conjunction with other software to provide user templates though and the data is still stored elsewhere, thus the information created can be easily re-created at any time. Think about this the next time you go to open Word, is there a better way to work more efficiently?

When introducing an EMR to an office, the basic understanding of MS Office is a real plus as well, as most software will export to either Word or Excel formats or many beyond this. Are you doing a mailing list, then Excel would be a better choice if this information is to be re-created and use in other software. Are you doing a presentation, perhaps Power Point would be the better solution rather than trying to do this with Word.

In summary, DON’T CUT YOURSELF AND VALUED STAFF SHORT ON TRAINING WHEN IT IS AVAILABLE. You can have the best and most proficient software installed, but if management and staff are not equally proficient, you may have wasted a whole bunch of money on software that will do the job for you, but the staff has not a clue on how to maximize the software to it’s fullest potential, thus you end up with staff and management taking up to 4 times the amount of time to complete the same task, whereby a trained staff could accomplish the same thing in a minimal amount of time.

Also, use software that is secure when needed, and avoid storing information in unsecured Word and other document formats if privacy implications are there. Don’t be another statistic in the “lost information” headlines. Use software wisely and store this type of information where it belongs, in the software, not with unsecured documents that also require a lot of disk storage areas. Your software program will also back this up for you too, unlike having to store a file of documents and it can be reproduced again at any time. With security as it is today, it is just way to risky to rely on unsecured documents for storing information with privacy implications.

Put the shoe on the other foot for a moment and think of the information being stored without security being yours, now that's a scary thought. Nobody wants to purposely expose information that shouldn't be out there for those that are less than honest. Think of the implications this creates for others having to do all the legwork to clean up an identity after it has been compromised. I hope that I never have to face this or be the cause of someone else having to do the same if it was easily preventable by having enough training in how to handle documents, software and a basic knowledge of security.


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