Learn The Database

My next challenge was to learn the database that we used to store all of our provider information on.

There are several different software systems out there:

  • Cactus
  • Echo
  • MD-Staff
  • Morrisey/MSOW
  • And probably a whole bunch more that I’m not aware of

My particular company uses MSOW, but I have heard from others that Cactus and Echo are similar systems, with similar features.  I’m willing to guess that the other programs that I’m not familiar with are the same with similar systems and similar features.  The point of this post is not to highlight a specific database or to tout one as being superior to the others, but rather to speak on challenges that we all may face.

So what were my challenges in learning my credentialing database?

To begin with, remember me relating that my coworker and Director were not good trainers?  This carried over into the database realm.  I was instructed on how to log-in, how to look up a provider and which button to click on how to save “this particular document”.  Every few days, I would get another instruction on a different document and what to do with it.

The database was huge!  It had at least 2 dozen buttons, all doing different functions.  And heaven forbid you click a wrong button; you either lost yourself down a rabbit hole maze with no way out except to log-out or received a screen that might as well have said, “You’re not authorized to be here – GET OUT!”.


It was intimidating to say the least.

As I have self-taught myself many computer programs over the years, I undertook the task to learn the credentialing database.  To be honest, it took me months to learn enough for me to feel comfortable enough with the program to actually explore on my own (as I was also having to learn my actual job duties – it left less and less time to “learn” a computer program beyond immediate day-to-day needs).

Growing up with computers, I have learned that MOST programs will not allow you to delete anything without double-checking that you really really really mean to delete it.  So I would explore by randomly clicking on buttons that I had no idea what they were used for or what they did.  If it asked me to “save” or “delete”, I usually said no – especially if I didn’t know what I was attempting to save or delete!  This is how I formed the majority of my working knowledge and “expertise” in my database.

Even after 6 months of being in the program, it wasn’t uncommon for me to exclaim out of the blue to my coworker, “Hey!  Did you know ‘this’ button does ‘that’?”

I usually received a response back of, “Yes, I just don’t use it.”  Well….that explained why I didn’t know about the feature before that moment, but since I considered it an awesome feature that needed to be used I would question ‘why not’?  I would get a range of answers of ‘I just never use it’, to ‘it doesn’t work properly’, to ‘why would we use it?’.

Case in point – MSOW has a Gap Analysis feature that isn’t very obvious.  The screen it is on uses the “print” icon.  I had overlooked it for months because I didn’t need to print that particular screen.  One day, I was really struggling to figure out if there was a gap in one provider’s education/work history, so I decided to print out the various screens of information so I could use a ruler and pencil system.  Imagine my surprise when the program calculated the information for me with just a couple of clicks of the button!  I think I mildly struggled with this task for almost a year before I stumbled upon this feature.

What my coworker and Director did not tell me, that I learned on my own, that I would like to share with you now is this:

  • There is online help for your program.  Google it.  I guarantee someone knows how to do what you are struggling with if the immediate people in your office are clueless.
  • If you have the desire – dedicate yourself to learning as much as you can about your database.  I am confident that the database developer has already programmed systems to help you do your job more efficiently.  Use the database to your benefit.
  • If you have the ability within your organization – have at least one employee within your department become a certified ‘super-user’.  This will allow you access and knowledge to utilize much more than just the surface-level of your database.

What did you find challenging about learning your credentialing database?