What Makes A Super-User Super?

Author: Sherry Pouncey

Blue Eagle’s own Director of Professional Services

Have you ever been a part of an EHR installation where Nurse Super Users were not identified, trained and utilized? We haven’t. I’ve often wondered, what makes a super user super? The traditional answer to what is a “super user” is someone with a profound understanding of a process. In my experience with EHR platform migrations, super users typically receive anywhere from 50-100% additional training in the particular “job” they perform. There really isn’t anything “super” about that. A person capable of functioning at a certain level in their position is an expectation. That isn’t super, it’s just proficiency.

I was working on curriculum in a contract role a few years ago where I developed an idea which I decided to take to the CNO of the organization I was supporting at the time. To me, a real Super User is someone that has the knowledge base and capabilities to help those around him/her.  For example, a nurse on a unit that is designated and trained as a Super User should be able to help their fellow nurses as well as the Unit Secretary, Patient Care Tech or a Provider with basic job functionalities such as charting/documentation, order entry, order/task completion and chart review.

What is a Super-User?

An EHR super user should be a person on a unit or in a practice who understands the system and best practice workflows. This is someone the rest of the staff can look to for guidance and in some instances can also train new hires, as well as work with staff who have changed roles within the practice or organization.

It is our recommendation that all EHR nursing super users are cross trained for all roles on their unit, so they are able to function as a true Super User.  Super Users can also augment your organization’s Informatics team to help educate staff on optimization and system updates. They are then able to provide the rest of the staff with updated information. Keeping the staff informed with pertinent updates will help prevent end users from falling behind and becoming frustrated with the EHR.

In the practice setting, the EHR super user might be a nurse or medical assistant but should be able to support the front desk, nurse/medical assistant, and providers.

How Organizations Can Prepare

Whether you are converting to a new EHR or continuing with your current system, an EHR super user can be very beneficial. The timing of your Nurse Super User program can be crucial to the success of your EHR Implementation.  Your nurses should play a critical role in the entire EHR project from the planning phase to the actual go-live.

It is often thought that a new EHR or new technology will solve the challenges and issues your organization faces but it is more likely your issues are related to process, workflow and adoption. Who better than a nurse to champion and drive the success or your current or future state EHR? Nurses face these challenges every day and can help their organization navigate an implementation, optimization project or the everyday issues related to your current state EHR.

Even if you have an IT education team or a full-scale informatics department, Nurse Super Users can augment these teams in a basic fundamental way.  These nurses are “in the numbers” on their units. They are part of their unit’s fabric and culture. They are the front-line workers with intimate access to their co-workers.  The Super User’s buy-in and engagement will transcend through their unit.

Benefits of SU Program

Super users can be utilized to augment your IT staff from the very beginning. Selecting and engaging your Nursing Super Users in the early stages of the project, excitement, engagement and ownership is cultivated at the unit level of your organization by a team member everyone on that unit knows. A “local” champion can create excitement, build credibility and manage anxiety levels better than other team members.  Other ways early engagement of nursing super users can benefit your project:

  • Offer workflow knowledge during the design and build phase
  • Work with contracted instructional designers/trainers to ensure workflows and other client specific information is incorporated into classroom training
  • Serve as proctors for classroom training to be readily available to speak to policy and other client specific questions
  • Function as a true super user for go-live and beyond

When organizations develop an EHR super user program or team, some organizations recruit on a volunteer basis while other organization appoint their team. Whereas there are benefits to both approaches, you should look for super users with the following qualities:

  • Understands workflow
  • Knowledgeable about computers
  • Learns quickly and is eager
  • Keeps track of updates currently
  • Understands the culture and climate of their unit/practice and can be an engaging champion for the “cause”
  • Self-motivation: the Super User should enjoy finding solutions, understanding the reason behind each activity, analyzing and sharing information. This encourages colleagues to seek solutions to problems, creating an atmosphere of continuous improvement in the department.
  • Interpersonal skills, including well-honed communication skills. The Super User coaches each person on the team and adapts the message to each individual.

Acute care organizations and practices in the ambulatory setting should include Nursing Super Users in the project planning for EHR implementations and optimization programs from the beginning. A successful project isn’t as much about the IT. A successful project is more about the planning, engagement, excitement, training and a culture that fosters success for all end-users.

Let us help you today!

Contact us today to get started on very own Super-User Program developed by Blue Eagle! We can’t wait to help you!