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 (forzleyg@trinity-health.org) 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 (TonyOnorad@OnoradSolutions.com) 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.

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