Training from your software vendor is a crucial step to successful use and ROI on software investments. In my experience, many practices, especially small ones, think that they can read the manual and self-train and get the benefits of their software. However, many times dissatisfaction with software is actually a lack of training. Many practices don’t use all the relevant features, or use them wrongly, and therefore spend much more time and effort on tasks than needed.
When selecting software, asking around is a common method to figure out if software will work for you. Talking to other users, checking references and finding out about the user experience is valuable. However, dentists need to recognize that few dental practices prioritize vendor training and make the most of it. Further, at any particular software vendor, there may be several trainers and there may have been changes/upgrades in software. Furthermore, practices that use a software may have purchased the wrong software or not allowed enough time for their own training.
In addition, training from a vendor is the first step in a two-way relationship. Establishing the importance of the software in daily work is necessary both internally to the practice and to create a channel of communication with the vendor. Ideally, a practice has selected the best software for their needs, and will use that software for years to come. To build a strong, ongoing relationship, practices need to treat vendor training as a mechanism for setting up communication channels, providing feedback and important information. The trainer often becomes the go-to person, the key link in the communication chain for practices to understand upgrades, communicate unique needs and problems, and receive important information from the vendor.
Using your software fully demands deep knowledge, and trainers can provide personalized information about the nuances and features. Communicate with the vendor and trainer; don’t suffer in silence, and don’t expect the vendor to read your mind.
In small and large practices, the organization must value the training and be committed—even if that is hard to do. Treat training as an obligation and an opportunity that you have paid for.
Michael Uretz is a thirty-year healthcare IT veteran and nationally-recognized Electronic Health Records (EHR) and healthcare software expert.