Communication and the electronic health record training: a comparison of three healthcare systems

Michelle H Lynott, Sarah A Kooienga, Valerie T Stewart


Background The electronic health record (EHR) used in the examination room, is becoming the primary method of medical data storage in primary care practice in the USA. One of the challenges in using EHRs is maintaining effective patient–provider communication. Many studies have focused on communication in the examination room.

Purpose Scant research exists on the best methods in educating nurse practitioners and other primary care providers (clinicians). The purpose of this study was to explore various health record training programmes for clinicians.

Methods One researcher participated in and observed three health systems’ EHR training programmes for ambulatory care providers in the Pacific Northwest. A focused ethnographic approach was used, emphasising patient–provider communication.

Results Only one system had formalised communication training in their class, the other two systems emphasised only the software and data aspects of the EHR.

Conclusions The fact that clinicians are expected to use EHRs in the examination room necessitates the inclusion of communication training in EHR training programmes and/or as a part of primary care nurse practitioner education programmes.


electronic health record; patient–provider communication; primary care

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