Going Rogue: Bringing Provider-Side Experience to the World of EHR Training

Chris Cooley, Training Point Advisor

Author: Chris Cooley, Epic Program and Training Director

Much has been written about the disconnect that exists between healthcare providers and the health IT resources they use. Although clinicians represent a significant portion of the end-users that HIT products are designed for, many report feeling removed from the health IT review and selection process. This spells trouble when it comes to tech adoption in our hospitals and health systems.

Fortunately, research suggests that healthcare leadership teams are increasingly finding value in seeking input from the front lines of care delivery when it comes to technology implementations. The race to weave clinical and technical expertise is on. Pivot Point Consulting is no stranger to the initiative, having taken similar steps to bring provider-side expertise into the EHR staffing, training and consulting fold.

My Move from the Clinic to EHR Consulting

I began my career in healthcare working as a Medical Assistant, directly supporting providers throughout all phases of bedside care. As my experience grew, I was asked to manage an outpatient 24-hour Urgent Care facility. It was there that I experienced my first upgrade from paper to electronic health records. Over the course of those initial years working on the front lines of care I also moonlighted as an instructor at a local community college. I found my element in those teaching and leadership roles and when an opportunity to fuse those two passions emerged I jumped and transitioned into a technical training position at Washington-based Franciscan Health, supporting 78 clinics and 240 providers.

During my tenure with Franciscan Health, I worked on the team managing the facility’s new EHR vendor selection and ultimately, their Epic implementation. Over the upcoming years, I quickly progressed into roles as an Epic Principal Trainer, peer mentor and adult education specialist, National Training Supervisor and Training Manager. I enjoyed this work immensely, but had gone about as far as I could go working as a Trainer in a provider / healthcare IT setting. I was eager to take the next step in my career.

My professional trajectory eventually shifted from the clinical setting to the world of EHR consulting, but not in the same way most EHR professionals join the consulting realm. In June of 2016 I was recruited to bring my experience and expertise working on behalf of providers to the Greythorn team, acting as their full-time EHR Program Advisor. Those responsibilities rolled into Pivot Point when the companies merged under Vaco in late 2016. I’ve since been appointed to lead our new training practice, Training Point, where we’re formalizing new EHR education programs, applying my clinical background and technical training subject matter expertise to multiple EHR platforms.

Lending Provider Perspective to EHR Training

Outside of Epic, most EHR companies have resources on their team to help implementation teams with build and testing, but lack similar direction and tools for training and/or adoption. I’m working with Pivot Point to shed light on needs from the provider/health system perspective and solve those problems by creating a comprehensive EHR training program. From initial budget and staffing considerations to post go-live steady state training, we are developing a cost-effective, easily adoptable project plan, staffing guide, training materials, and additional implementation/upgrade tools.

The knowledge of EHR training oversights gleaned from with each implementation or upgrade, paired with continual physician feedback and clinical pulse checks, allow us to keep our training programs on the cutting edge of best practices. Our advisors and consultants partner with each healthcare organization to navigate the many moving pieces in an EHR build and go-live, including but not limited to:

  • Project Management and Training Manager Mentorship
  • Developing a comprehensive implementation and training timeline
  • Working with HR to tailor job descriptions to recruit the right skill set and work ethic for each Training role
  • Understanding when Training staff needs to participate in activities outside of traditional “training”
  • Identifying risk points throughout the project
  • Supplementing staff when team members are lost in the middle of a transition
  • Understanding training’s role in go-live, upgrades, and steady state work

For Epic implementations, we’ve supported the “Specialists Training Specialists” (STS) model, whereby client sites ask for physician volunteers to become trainers for their peers. There are, however, challenges to the STS model, including difficulties garnering physician engagement among MDs who are hard pressed for time. Many of the STS providers do not feel they are versed enough in Epic at training and often rely on trainers, analysts, informaticists and other help in the classroom to ensure all providers have their questions answered.  In some cases, physician-led training is limited to workflows that apply to or interest the STS provider, which can result in selective and incomplete physician training, and slower adoption upon implementation.

To circumvent these issues, we’ve developed a program that enlists a dedicated team of American-trained physicians and providers who are practiced Epic (or relevant EHR) end-users, experienced trainers who have a robust understanding of personalization and specialty workflows, and are willing to come on site to train and support other physicians. This approach enables physicians to get what they need from peers who speak the same language, and can easily translate technology into medicine. They intrinsically understand the complexities, heartaches and advantages of EHR adoption and can articulate training in a way that makes EHR adoption smoother.

We’re speaking with predominant healthcare organizations on the west coast and one of largest teaching universities in the mid-west about the new offering and look forward to expanding the program. We tailor our training programs based on the unique needs of each client site. Our approach answers the call for greater provider engagement in HIT implementations, which we firmly believe lies at the heart of successful EHR adoption.

Whether fostering internal clinical involvement or hiring outside help with a background in clinical settings, your efforts to engage your provider end-users can make or break your implementation. How are you promoting greater provider collaboration on your EHR projects?

Learn more about Chris and Training Point’s advisory services.