Healthcare Super Bowl – Winning with EHR Adoption – Breakaway Thinking

Posted on January 15, 2014 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Jennifer Bergeron, Learning and Development Manager at The Breakaway Group (A Xerox Company). Check out all of the blog posts in the Breakaway Thinking series.

The most important – and most vulnerable – connection between strategy and execution is the actual performance of people.

~ Charles Fred, Breakaway

It’s the end of football season and the Super Bowl, the game that determines the best team in the country, wait – in the world – will be played February 2 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The more I learn about the game, the more impressive the depth of leadership, preparation, strength, training, and split-second adaption the sport involves.

Clinicians need to be just as prepared for their own Super Bowl where they score touchdowns by improving patient care, meeting government regulations, and increasing efficiency related to their use of the best technologies. Electronic health record usage is a large part of the government’s Meaningful Use initiative. As of July 2013, 82% of hospitals successfully achieved Stage 1 Meaningful Use and continue to work to adopt EHR technology. How can providers and hospitals support their teams toward EHR success?

Engaged Leadership

First, let’s take a cue from Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers who said that “individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

A group is brought together by the leaders whether it’s the coach, a foreman, or an executive team. In the healthcare setting, the right tone for any change is set at the top of the organization. When adopting a major change like an EHR, leadership has the responsibility of making a game plan, getting the best people involved, and finding the right EHR education solution to help them succeed.


Which brings us to training and education. Rod Marinelli, currently of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers says, “I love coaching young players and it starts with the staff that understands how to teach.” When taking on the challenge of introducing a new EHR, a hospital needs a good plan with the right trainers. A good program doesn’t try to teach every intricacy of a play in detail in order to prepare for every scenario on the field.

The same concept applies to a hospital adopting a new EHR. Dr. Heather Haugen, Managing Director at The Breakaway Group, A Xerox Company, has done significant research on EHR adoption. In Beyond Implementation: A Prescription for Lasting EMR Adoption,Dr. Haugen states that “we know from nearly nine decades of research about adult learning that humans do not learn without a natural progression from discovery through experience. The average human brain is a very poor storage device for information and data, unless that information is recalled and reinforced immediately by experiential activities.” Rather than memorization of facts and workflows, a more efficient way to learn an EHR is through simulations of those workflows. Teach the process and decision-making and the learner creates their own pathways to making the right moves.


How do we know that the leadership coaching and the simulation training are working? By measuring the results. In football, the final score is what matters. As 20-season wide receiver Jerry Rice says, each person must take the necessary steps to reach the goal. In his words, “today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” Making big changes to process is difficult in execution and in motivation. But by employing the right leadership team as the “coach” along with the proper training and education, when EHR adoption is measured, the right results are possible.

Keeping Pace with Change – Sustainment

After implementing a new EHR application, it would be a mistake to assume that everything would stay the same day-to-day. Adopting an EHR rather than simply implementing an EHR indicates that an organization uses and depends on the system to make them better and more efficient. (Implementation implies only usage of the system, which leaves room for inefficiency and work-arounds.)

Once adoption is reached, it’s a continual process to stay at that level. With staff turnover, changes to software applications, and process updates, coaching, training, and keeping score fall into a plan of sustainment or the ability to keep pace with change. In the football world, Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach calls it dedication: “confidence doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s a result of something…hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication.” It takes continual effort to continually strive for improvement.

The Final Score

To reach the goals of excellent patient care, timeliness, efficiency, and to meet government regulations, each of these four elements must a priority, which is the definition of The Breakaway Method: Engaged Leadership, Education, Metrics, and Keeping Pace with Change. All of the pieces must be in play in order to make the most of any organization. Just as in football, the coaching staff, training program, measurements of results, and changes that meet each week’s challenges are critical.

Football does teach us that the road to success is long, to maintain success is hard, but winning is the name of the game.

Xerox is a sponsor of the Breakaway Thinking series of blog posts.