With over 200 approved electronic medical record vendors vying for your business and more appearing every day, the process of selecting the most appropriate one for your practice as well as implementing it, can be a very daunting process. After all, healthcare providers are educated in medicine, not information technology.

Fortunately, there are now many avenues you can take to help with the difficult decision in choosing the right one for you.

Now, there are various organizations that have formulated EMR programs to educate healthcare providers, providing the information needed to purchase and install the systems. Programs are available from both vendors and independent companies.

OpenVista, which is the free, open-source system based on the EMR instituted by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, has a commercial provider, Medsphere.

Medsphere offers EMR education courses. The chief medical officer and executive vice president of products for Medsphere, admits, “ when you have 15% of practices and under 5% of hospitals that are fully adopted, you don’t have a lot of people who know how to do this”. “ You have to have people on site and in the field that know how to use and deploy and make EMRs work”. So clearly there is an educational need.

Another group to recognize the need is Network Infrastructure Technologies Health. Based in New York, the company has been providing free, practice-specific classroom didactic work to train providers who not only get the training but also CME credits.

CEO of NITHealth, Lior Blik feels that the program has a dual purpose: provide healthcare providers and medical institutions with the information they need to make wise decisions and also to train those who may go on to meet the recruitment demands for health IT jobs. They are currently developing an online program as well.

Starting 2010, many community colleges will also be adding health IT programs to their curriculum.

The Borough of Manhattan Community College will be offering classes designed by NITHealth,beginning  January 2010. The program involves 4 lab sessions, 16 classes and costs approximately $3,000.

For those who cannot take the time away from their practice, there are online courses as well.

Train for Compliance, located in Bellevue, Washington sells several curriculums and certification programs which include basic health IT and HIPAA compliance. Depending on the program that is tailored for you, the cost ranges from $95 for an individual course to $1500 for a 10-course package.

There are few things worse than spending a tremendous amount of money for electronic programs, only to let them sit fallow for lack of understanding how to use them.

Taking the mystery out of the available programs will hopefully make implementing the programs less painful and remove the decision stress.