Building Strong Super Users

Experience has shown that forming a solid team of “super users” – those team members who will be your front-line support teams – is critically important for a successful transition to a new or replacement electronic health record (EHR).  All too often, little care or direction are given to selecting and developing these critical contributors to both your initial implementation and to ongoing adoption and optimization.

Recent experience with a large health system in San Francisco demonstrates this. The lead of their EHR training team requested senior leadership commitment to a robust super user program.  The result –  these key members of the team were instrumental to a very smooth, successful go-live.

What are the ingredients to making super users truly super?

  • Clear job descriptions – Would you hire someone without first identifying the key responsibilities?  Of course not.  Before you identify who your super users will be (either internal or external), create a clear job description that includes estimated hours required for: their own training, super users support of training, go-live support hours, and ongoing support of your EHR.
  • Skills and Abilities – After drafting an accurate job description, be sure to use that to select the right super users, based on their skills – not on who might be your favorite on the team.  Conversely, don’t select a poor performer, just to get them out of the way.  It is also important to make certain that they can comfortably approach all types of users, especially health professionals, and that they are skilled listeners that don’t react to user frustrations or concerns.
  • “Art” Classes – No, we’re not going to teach our super users how to paint; the first class a new super user should participate in should be The Art of Being a Super User.  This class addresses the “soft skills” needed to be successful in this support and training role: What is a super user?  How do adults learn?  What if I’m providing support and I don’t know the answer?  How do I handle a frustrated provider?  It’s critical that new super users understand adult learning methodologies before you start to train them on your EHR.
  • A Committed Journey– To completely understand both your new EHR system and their role in training and support, your super users should be “out-of-the-count” (not splitting duties) and have a clear, committed path:
    • Art of Being a Super User
    • Super User EHR training
    • Supporting at least two full rounds of classroom training for their co-workers.
    • Pre-go-live 1:1 support and training to further prepare their teams for implementation.
    • Implementation support.
    • Ongoing training, system testing, new-hire support, etc.

And, don’t forget to keep the super user team intact – they will be also be important to assist the staff with refining best practices, learning new features and functions, and invaluable when you are implementing a future upgrade.  Recognizing this key role and empowering your super users to be effective will pay off significantly not just for go-live, but far beyond your initial implementation.

About the Authors

Dr. Greg Forzley

Dr. Greg Forzley ( is the Chief Medical Information Officer – Health Networks, Trinity Health, and serves as Chairman of the Michigan State Medical Society. Dr. Forzley has been instrumental in improving physician adoption of EMR systems and is a champion of improving patient care through meaningful use concepts.

Tony Onorad

Mr. Tony Onorad ( is the founder of OnoradSolutions, a knowledge improvement consulting firm, and has been an innovator in the adult learning field for over fifteen years. He has led several complex training projects for a variety of clients.

Lessons Learned from a Seasoned EHR Training Manager

All too often “training” is overlooked and at the bottom of many EHR project lists.  The impact to not investing in improving the knowledge levels of your teams contribute to a disastrous go-live and a constant up-hill challenge to achieving adoption, let alone optimization.  A well-developed strategic training plan is a critical component to a successful go-live.

Having managed an ongoing EHR training project for the past several years, I’ve experienced many “lessons learned:”

  • New EHR Users: Any user who is new to your organization or even current employees that are new to the EHR or taking on a new role within EHR should go through training and pass a proficiency before they are given access to the system. This ensures that you have users that understand your system workflows before they begin any type of documenting within your EHR system.
  • Support Your Training Team: The organization must back up the training team so that if the Training Manager needs to deny access to a user they can. The trainers should also work with the department Managers and allow the Manager to determine if the user should continue with training or if the user just isn’t a good fit.
  • Schedules, Schedules, Schedules: Set a training schedule and stick to it. I have heard to many times how the Training Team of an organization is run ragged because they are constantly trying to satisfy the demands of new hire training sessions. Set schedules and stick to them. For Ambulatory you can alternate you weeks training Red/Sched one week and Clinical the next. You may have to tell a Manager that a new users training will be delayed a week because of the schedule but as long as the schedule is published for all to see, they will soon catch on and plan their hiring of new employees to coincide with the training schedule.
  • All the Goodies – at Once? When going live with EHR, build and implement what is needed at the time. You can always add additional functionality later. EHR has a lot of cool features, but without the staff to maintain the functionality of these features after you have implemented them, you may find dissatisfaction among users because of the length of time it will take for updates and changes to occur.
  • You Changed What?! Make sure you have a strong Change Control process in place. Your IT Management Team and Analyst should meet on a weekly basis to discuss any system issues and changes. When implementing any changes, all applications within EHR as well as any integrated systems should be involved in the planning and testing. A change may work for the EHR application needing it, but as EHR is an integrated system the change may not work for downstream applications or other integrated software systems. Including all applications in testing should catch any issues.



Shelley Fletcher CPC, PCS, CHCO

Epic Certified in ADT, Prelude, Resolute PB