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Un-complicating Healthcare IT

Hospital IT: Engage Super Users Properly For Lasting Success

Oct 22, 2015 9:45:00 AM Posted by Jim Green | Senior Healthcare IT Consultant

Find out how to engage your hospital’s super users and achieve lasting technology success.

Super users are an essential part of your hospital’s technology ecosystem. Without them, important questions go unanswered, end users run into obstacles and workflow gets disrupted.

But, it can be challenging to maintain a high-performing team of super users. It isn’t enough to designate a group of people as super users, train them on EHR use and tell them to “spread the word.” It’s important to lay the groundwork for long-term success and improve operations. To do so, you must plan ahead and engage your super users strategically.

In this article, we’ll offer you some tips to get started.

1) Choose The Right Super Users

First, make sure you’ve appointed the right people to the role.

Every super user in your hospital should be respected for their clinical or professional expertise, not their technology prowess. Naturally skilled technology users generally have less credibility as “helpers” among the rank and file, and they sometimes have trouble breaking complex issues down for non-tech users. 

Skillful nurses, on the other hand, often make excellent EHR super users. After they get up to speed and trained on the technology, they have the potential to be great resources for nurses and physicians alike.

2) Budget Time And Resources Appropriately

As you choose your super user team, it’s imperative to set aside the right time and financial resources to make your program work.

Make sure your designated super users have bandwidth for the role. Super user responsibilities must be built into each user’s job description and schedule, with time and workload considerations accounted for. Otherwise, the role becomes an afterthought. The super user winds up in a time crunch, having to choose between their typical job duties and their technical responsibilities, and progress stalls.

Also, consider providing compensation for your super users. Paying super users for their role validates the work you’re asking them to do. It’s a signal that the responsibilities of the super user role are real priorities – no less important than the other tasks in their day-to-day work. It’s also one way to retain top talent and keep clinicians who are skilled at technology from seeking career opportunities elsewhere. 

3) Plan And Engage

To create a robust, long-term plan for success and get the most value out of your super users, make sure you engage them the smart way. 
Be sure to: 

    Super user training should occur on a formalized schedule so that super users’ skills and knowledge are always up to date. Training is essential because it helps prevent EHR users from perpetuating incorrect conclusions and inefficient workarounds. There should also be formal meetings set up for super users to collaborate, share best practices and create a list of actionable improvements that need to be made. 

    Super users can help shape the direction of your hospital’s broader technology plan. Essentially, every super user should be viewed as an ad hoc member of the IT Plan Steering Committee, providing tangible intel and feedback “from the trenches” as needed. You may also consider making a super user a key figure of the committee if, for example, you have a department leader that isn’t well suited for the role. A super user in that department is an ideal stand-in (although not all super users will be comfortable in that capacity). 

    Empower super users to help direct technology inquiries so your IT team is freed up to work on more advanced, urgent tasks. Doing so also enables your end users to receive more immediate assistance. Instead of waiting for a support ticket to be addressed by the IT team, EHR users have their questions answered quickly – by a peer who speaks their language and understands their clinical workflow.

Big Changes, Big Responsibility

Changing your approach to super user engagement isn’t an overnight task. Setting a consistent training schedule, bringing super users into the strategic fold and budgeting additional hospital time and resources requires a lot of work.

To make the transition easier, consider working with a third-party expert who has experience forming super user groups, aligning human and technical resources for user success and creating standard best practices that garner results.

Whether you decide to work with a consultant or go it alone, be sure to revisit your super user engagement plan this year to lay the groundwork for lasting success as soon as possible. 

Learn even more best practices for IT – and clinical – success.



Jim Green | Senior Healthcare IT Consultant

Jim has over 20 years of experience in developing, managing, and implementing IT projects and solutions in healthcare, publishing, and insurance industries. Jim is currently serving hospitals and clinics in a CIO role, specializing in EHR optimization, process improvement, IT planning, and leading IT teams.