Soft Skills for Hard Results: Training EHR Trainers to…Train!

A casual observation of many EHR trainers reveals an unsettling truth: they’re not great classroom trainers. While most possess adequate subject-matter expertise in their given Epic application, their ability to engage learners and facilitate knowledge transfer in the classroom often falls short of what is needed to adequately prepare end users to make a seamless transition to the new system at Go Live.

Most Epic training departments within healthcare organizations spend too little if any time preparing trainers with the soft-skills needed to ensure success in the classroom, concentrating their energies instead on dealing with build issues, rewriting lesson plans and making sure their trainers know the curriculum. All important tasks to be sure, but the unintended consequence is a group of trainers often ill equipped to manage classroom dynamics, facilitate adult learning, or skillfully handle overwhelmed, confused and resistant end users.

The good news is that most of what trainers need to learn can be integrated into a train-the-trainer process that seamlessly complements their Epic training. We start by giving trainers well-written Epic lesson plans and making sure they understand their organization’s unique build and workflows, but we ultimately set them up for success by equipping them with 14 key soft-skill training competencies that differentiate average trainers from great trainers. Specifically, trainers need to know how to:

  1. build rapport, trust and credibility with end users.
  2. hook, engage and motivate learners during classroom sessions.
  3. deliver with impact and make effective use of nonverbal communication—tone, volume, body language, eye contact, gestures, volume, pacing—to keep learners tuned-in and engaged.
  4. optimize learner readiness by helping end users not only understand course objectives, but appreciate how they’ll personally benefit from the new system.
  5. read their audience and teach to all learning styles—auditory, visual, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal—to help end users comprehend, retrain and apply what is taught.
  6. use directional statements effectively to ensure all learners are rowing in the same direction and keeping pace with the instructor.
  7. develop strong in-classroom partnerships with Super Users, who play a vital role in helping latecomers get caught up and helping slower learners get back on track.
  8. use music, icebreakers and energizers appropriately to lighten the mood and create a positive classroom training environment.
  9. ask effective questions to check for understanding and involve learners.
  10. make sure the end user “got it.”
  11. handle questions from learners and use the “parking lot” effectively
  12. help participants navigate through, align with and support the change to Epic.
  13. give end users strategies for simultaneously managing patient care and the PC.
  14. handle difficult, frustrated and confused end users and manage resistance in the classroom to neutralize disruptions and enhance everyone’s learning experience.

The time spent preparing trainers how to train, and not just memorizing lesson plans and studying workflows, pays handsome dividends. Not only are end users better prepared, leading to smoother Go Live events with fewer speed bumps, but ultimately the patient experience is positively impacted, as clinicians and other Epic end users spend less time fumbling through the system and more time paying attention to patient care and safety.

Written by Danny Lewis, Senior Learning and Development Professional

 

Staffing: An Important Component to Successful EHR Training

As one who has been in the role of an EHR training manager for several clients, I’ve learned that one of the key challenges to a successful training initiative is how well you staff your training team.  Trying to save on staffing your training team will negatively impact your EHR implementation and likely result in higher go-live support and ongoing training costs.

I’ve learned that three critical elements in staffing your training team are:

  • Compensate well: The EHR market is very competitive. Once you “credential” your trainers, they can become hot commodities in a tight market. You don’t want to have to recruit once training begins and as you get close to go-live.
  • Build diverse / cross-over skill sets: By doing so, you invest in your trainers and build loyalty, while ensuring that you have back ups and coverage across all modules. Don’t put your eggs in one basket as they say.
  • Invest in the soft skills training (e.g., “train-the-trainer” type programs for your soon-to-be trainers): Learning how to transfer knowledge to adults in a health care IT setting is truly an art.  Even if you hire seasoned trainers, it’s good to get your team on the same page and to refresh their adult training skills.

Your trainers are also the face of your EHR project and change management facilitators. We don’t just want to teach your learners EHR functionality; we need to sell it to them. Therefore, it’s critical that they understand and convey to their learners:

  • Why are we going up on this new EHR?
  • Will this new system really improve how we provide patient care?
  • WIFFM: “What’s-in-it-for-me?”  How will this new system and the training make my life better?
  • Where do I go for help after training?
  • It’s OK to fail and to play in the system.  Learners won’t become experts upon leaving the classroom, but they should have a solid understanding and a road map for adoption.

Lastly, if you are like most EHR go-live sites, you’ll need a larger, temporary team of trainers to prepare for go-live.  Trying to cut costs by training non-EHR trainers to become EHR experts is a risky proposition.  I recommend a blended approach of seasoned and non-seasoned EHR training talent.

Don’t got it alone: Partner with and rely upon an experienced consulting /  recruiting firm to assist with the recruiting / evaluating, interview, and onboarding process. Many recruiters and consulting firms are happy to place warm bodies; few truly understand EHR training and how to place solid, experienced trainers who are a good fit for your organization and who will play a huge role in making or breaking your implementation.

–Tony Onorad, EHR Training Management Consultant