Medical staff can become quite frustrated when their healthcare organization’s electronic health record (EHR) systems are too time-consuming and/or don’t dovetail with workflows. This situation can all too easily lead to clinician burnout and even to medical staff leaving the profession altogether.
More specifically, the following seven EHR design issues have been closely correlated to a lack of well-being in physicians:
- Information overload
- Slow system response times
- Excessive data entry
- Inability to navigate the system quickly
- Note bloat
- Fear of missing something
- Notes geared toward billing, not patient care
Ideally, these issues will be addressed in a healthcare organization’s next EHR update or during the implementation and optimization of a new EHR system. In the meantime, it’s crucial to address technical problems and offer support to medical staff and more—which is why many organizations create a team of highly knowledgeable, in-house super users. When super users take care of the technical issues and provide education and support to end users across roles, this frees up your medical professionals and other teams to put their focus where it truly belongs: on providing world-class health care services.
Super User Definition
IT professionals have used this term for quite a while to refer to someone with the maximum amount of usage privileges within a system. Super users are therefore those who can investigate and address issues across the computer network, EHR applications, and other databases and technologies.
People chosen to be super users—ones who enjoy full access privileges to assist everyone in the organization—need to be those who can:
- Proactively explore potential system and usage issues
- Create workarounds as needed
- Troubleshoot application problems to help prevent workflow stoppages
- Train new users on the system across end-user roles
- Provide support and guidance to employees, including other IT team members, when questions arise
- Serve as a liaison between the healthcare organization and the technology vendors
In sum, super users must know how to fully leverage the power of the technology and assist others to maximize their own knowledge and usage. How many super users are ideal within a healthcare organization will depend upon its size and application complexities as well as each of the super user’s personal bandwidths. If, for example, you can dedicate employees to this role, you’ll likely need fewer than if a group of IT experts each contribute to super user tasks.
Choosing Super Users
Research has indicated that engaged super users who have been “proactive, provided more comprehensive explanations for their actions, used positive framing, and shared information more freely” can be highly effective in helping enhance end users’ EHR proficiency.
Super users should be people with extensive knowledge of and experience with the EHR system and will be willing to stay up to date with all of its changes and advancements. Besides being technically gifted, super users should also have strong people skills, able to explain EHR lingo in user-friendly ways to medical professionals and other people within your organization. They typically must have the time to fulfill their regular job duties as well as coach and support others in your healthcare organization.
Super users are mostly connected with large healthcare organizations but, as Physicians Practice notes, they can also be of help to smaller ones, guiding them to get value out of their technology investments.
Across the spectrum of healthcare organization sizes, super users take the tech burden off medical professionals, allowing doctors, nurses, and other specialists to focus on enhancing patient experiences and outcomes.
Who Supports the Super Users?
Although the super user concept often works quite well, these IT professionals also need support. Ways to do this include managing their workloads, keeping a keen eye on their bandwidths, and setting limits on the IT tasks they undertake to help prevent them from experiencing the burnout that other medical professionals are currently experiencing in greater numbers.
Just like with any other employee, find what motivates each of your super users, appropriately acknowledging and rewarding their contributions.
During EHR implementations and other especially hectic times, consider adjusting the schedules of super users so that they can dedicate their time to the priority projects. When possible, it can even make sense to transition people who are exceptionally good at super user tasks away from their other IT duties so they can focus on being the technology go-to person for the healthcare organization.
Develop metrics to monitor the structure of your super user program for effectiveness, measuring how medical staff feel supported and how the super users themselves are satisfied with the structure.
Plus, it’s crucial to invest in your super users, providing them with the educational resources they need to stay current on the technologies you use; develop ways to optimize them further; and otherwise serve as the IT foundation for your medical staff and organization.
EHR Consulting for Super Users
“Super user training is a crucial component of an EHR training plan because super users combine specialized EHR training with training on how the EHR will be used in your organization for your specific workflow and patient population.” (HealthIT.gov)
At HealthTECH Resources, our professional network includes experienced EHR consultants who can train your super users and provide support to them—which is just one of the many benefits that set us apart from your typical EHR consulting companies. These experts will gain a deep understanding of how you’re optimizing workflows within your EHR system as well as your specific workflows and organizational processes. This allows the EMR consultants to provide very targeted super user training sessions and support them as they help to reduce the technology-related frustrations of your medical staff.
Contact HealthTECH Resources for Your EHR Consultants
Whether you’re planning an EHR upgrade, switching to a different EHR system, or are developing a super user program, contact us for premier EHR consulting services. Our boutique-style staff augmentation agency provides EMR consultants as well as contract-to-hire professionals and permanent placements. To get started, please contact us online or call (602) 903-7961.
PRESIDENT/CEO AT HEALTHTECH RESOURCES
Larry has specialized in building strategic healthcare relationships for over 25 years, helping the nation’s top payors and providers solve some of their most pressing business challenges through an intelligent mix of staffing services, training, and consulting.