Assembling The Right Stuff: The Keys to Gathering and Supporting A Successful EHR Go-Live Support Team

Posted on August 16, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Jaime Jaimes, Instructional Writer at Conduent, Breakaway Learning Solutions). Check out all of the blog posts in the Breakaway Thinking series.

For just a moment, put yourself in the shoes of a provider who needs to work with a new EHR. You’ve known that the EHR go-live event was impending, and now it’s here. You took the training, slipped a little job aid booklet in your pocket, and think you’ve got everything under control. But once you’re on the floor, you hit a sudden roadblock. Rifling through your packet in hopes of finding an answer could waste valuable time. What you really need is a friendly face to calmly talk you through that first hurdle and get you back on track.

This scenario is the reason that some physicians are identifying at-the-elbow support as a vital part of successful EHR implementation. A confident support team can create a calm and stable environment for your staff as they learn the ins and outs of their new system. But structuring your support strategy is easier said than done. Fortunately, I was able to sit down and discuss some key go-live support elements with two of Breakaway’s client services managers: Adam Koch and Meredith Wheelock.  Between them, they’ve overseen countless go-live events for hospitals and ambulatory locations alike, and they have three key pointers for any team planning a new EHR implementation or update.

Start assembling your support team early

Creating a support team is a daunting prospect. In our experience, at least a 1:3 support-to-learner ratio is the ideal level of staff training needed for a go live, a number backed up by online research journal Perspectives in Health Management. Beginning your search for the right people early on gives you the time to vet potential team members, and ensure they have the necessary certifications and experience specific to your go live. While you can get a team together in a month, we recommend starting the process two months or more before the event so that you can identify the right people and make sure they are prepared.

This may seem like a lot of time to invest, but having this at-the-elbow support can actually save you time at go live. A support team member can resolve questions and frustrating issues quickly, which in turn allows your staff to return to their other duties. Plus, the fact that the question was resolved in-the-moment, and in the environment in which your staff will likely face the issue again, increases the probability of knowledge retention and improves their confidence in using the system.

Get everyone on the same page

Even though you’re assembling a team of experts familiar with your EHR, you still need to make sure they’re all following the same workflows. This ensures your support team won’t teach different workflows to different departments or locations. Learning your best practices also means there won’t be a conflict between pre-go-live training and at-the-elbow assistance. After all, your staff expects help when they approach a support team member. If they get advice that contradicts their training, they will walk away feeling even more confused and frustrated, hindering their adoption progress. As this EHR Intelligence article notes, “Critical to the project’s success is supporting physician EHR users the right way at the right time.” Taking the time to teach your support team best practices is the easiest way to make sure you’re supporting your team the right way.

Establish lines of communication

A go-live event is a big endeavor, and even the best support team will encounter a quirk in the system they haven’t seen before. It’s at these times where having a defined path to escalate problems and share the solutions you generate will keep your EHR’s implementation on track. For those first few weeks, a daily touchpoint meeting with your support teams and site super-users can prove invaluable, as it allows everyone to identify pain points, troubleshoot issues, and come away with one clearly identified solution. Having this coordinated effort and standard way of communicating is critical for organizations large and small, and helps guarantee that even when a larger problem arises, your team doesn’t grind to a halt as you try to figure out the solution.

Your at-the-elbow support team is just one part of the successful go-live puzzle, but it’s a piece that can mean the difference between a frustrated staff and one that’s confident that this new EHR is just another part of their day.

Conduent is a sponsor of the Breakaway Thinking series of blog posts. Breakaway Learning Solutions is a leader in EHR and Health IT training. Download their Free Whitepaper “Leadership Insights: Gaining Value from Technology Investments.”