An experienced trainer of more than 24 years, Andrea Morgan has helped hospitals and healthcare providers all over the country maximize their use of electronic medical records (EMR) systems. Now, Morgan is taking her health informatics knowledge to the next level by pursuing a master’s in health informatics degree through the Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions. But when the Georgia State graduate student took on a new assignment to train health providers at Seattle Children’s Hospital in early February, she met a personal challenge that changed how she provided her services.
Shortly after beginning work on-site in Seattle, Morgan got sick. She spent a full week in bed with a fever, aches and a cough, stuck in a hotel room 2,100 miles from home. Recovering enough to travel home and continuing working, Morgan spiked another fever. She still doesn’t know if she had COVID-19 but switched to remote work anyway.
Morgan redesigned her training for the EPIC EMR system to a real-time, remote learning format. Tasked with training the Seattle hospital’s top research staff, who then train employees, she also needed administrative buy-in to continue crucial training necessary for successful EMR implementation.
“Technology isn’t helpful if you don’t know how to use it,” said Morgan. She added she aimed to help the administration understand why good training in health IT helps patient care and impacts costs since education reduces frustrations for employees using EMRs.
Hospital leaders often challenge Morgan with their reluctance to allocate employee training time away from practicing healthcare. However, educating the administration on the full capabilities of EPIC EMR is critical. It is more than a place to post notes on patient treatment and outcomes but also to officially document medical care and meet compliance needs and legal requirements.
Other times, training and implementation are smooth, which Morgan attributes to hospital leadership.
So, why does an experienced EMR consultant add graduate school to her busy schedule? Morgan thinks the degree will help her develop higher-level training and implementation for her clients.
“I’ve mostly been on the ground level, and this degree will help me focus on a broader scale, do more planning and work on a larger scale in health IT implementation,” said Morgan.
“Training is not a one-time thing,” Morgan advocates for continued training. “My challenge is to win over a client’s devotion to training for healthcare IT.”
Her approach won over Seattle Children’s. After the pandemic delays, the hospital opted for live Webex sessions. Morgan can check-in with clients on a real-time basis and believes it gives the sense that she’s paying attention to each student.
Morgan believes live online training is the wave of the future, harnessing expertise from retired professionals who may not be comfortable or able to travel for teaching hands-on.
“Quality training equals quality healthcare,” she said.