New software implementations can be a high-stress scenario in the hectic and sometimes change-averse world of healthcare. End users are under pressure to adapt to new resources while continuing to tend to the high-stakes business of patient care. Instilling confidence in users’ ability to make thorough and efficient use of new technology plays a big role in successful tech adoption. Comfort with new tools is particularly important in patient-facing roles like scheduling where staff frustration can negatively influence a patient’s first impression of the facility.
As EHR consultants, project managers and trainers, one of our primary goals is to engage and encourage end-users during software transitions. We lead the charge to get projects done on time and under budget without having official authority over team members within the client organization. Throughout my years working as an Epic principal trainer one thing has consistently helped me garner buy-in with project teams: building good relationships.
Good relationships with stakeholders play a pivotal role in maintaining project momentum and getting through the inevitable stress points that arise during implementation. Here are some best practices to keep in mind to put your best foot forward when building relationships with clients and end-users.
Make communication a key priority. Make sure everyone clearly understands the objective of the project and the overall plan up front to set the tone and establish team buy-in. Demonstrate that leadership is on board.
Address team expectations openly and honestly. Clearly define the expectations you have of people involved in the project. Identify and articulate specific deliverables and due dates. Meet on a weekly basis to review plans, get progress updates and identify risks that may have cropped up. Maintain a living document that changes with every meeting.
Encourage team members to take ownership. No one likes a know-it-all. One tactic I use even when I know the answer to a problem is to pose a probing question to the team and let the group come up with the solution themselves. This boosts staff confidence, helps team members feel they are contributing and keeps you from having to micromanage.
Build trust with project staff. Teams want leaders who will act as a voice for end-users. Spend at least a couple of hours with team members each week to get to know them, their pain points and their motivators. Walk throughs offer great opportunities for engagement.
Honor individuality. Don’t expect individuals to change who they are to fit the culture of the team. Some people, for example, work better independently. Recognize that and let them go. Refrain from forcing end users too far out of their comfort zone to avoid unnecessary friction.
Leverage rewards and recognition. Make it a point to celebrate staff accomplishments big and small. Peer recognition can be a strong motivator, but not all people appreciate public acknowledgement. Different rewards work for different people. Find the trigger that works for that individual. Small things like taking people to lunch can help you celebrate achievements and further develop relationships.
Make team participation fun. Humor can help diffuse project resistance and apprehension. Open presentations with a cartoon to bring fun to team meetings. During stressful times, a cartoon slide that acknowledges the pressure staff members may be facing can remind end users that they are not alone.
Invite end user feedback. Feedback loops help project managers and trainers continually get better. All EHR trainers and classes should be evaluated by end-users. This helps reveal improvement opportunities for future client projects.
At the end of the day, EHR training is not about you and how much you know. It is about making sure that users get what they need out of class. Don’t overflood their minds on day one. Demonstrate patience as staff members acclimate. Remember that relationship building and team engagement is a great way to not only share your knowledge but to learn from others as well.