It’s that time again. Your organization is getting ready to implement a major Epic upgrade and the Go-Live date is officially set on the calendar. You are charged with making sure clinical staff is sufficiently trained and ready for the big day. How will you get this done? Thousands of thoughts and concerns are going through your head. Don’t panic! Use the five tips outlined below to help you navigate this seemingly daunting task and ensure that your Epic users find value in your Epic upgrade training:
Here’s how we did it with Fletcher Allen Health Care:
1. Engage Clinical Management as Part of the Process
Involving clinical leadership from the very start of the process bolsters your training efforts significantly. Unit heads, nurse educators, and other leading roles will help you make more well-informed decisions every step of the way. Since these individuals spend the bulk of their time on the unit floors, they can serve as an effective bridge between the clinical and IT worlds. They can help you to gauge provider interest, communicate with clinical groups, and develop lesson plans for training. Consider having a clinical leader serve as a co-trainer, or teaching assistant during training sessions. This will put providers and nurses at ease, knowing that “one of their own” is involved in the upgrade process. In addition, having a clinical leader in the classroom will allow for the addressing of clinically-related questions that IT trainers may not be able to answer.
2. Develop a Proper Lesson Plan
Regardless of what specific group of clinicians you are training, a sound lesson plan is crucial to a successful round of training sessions. Before you sit down to write the plan, you should first get some basic logistical concerns ironed out: what new modules or features will users need to learn? Are there any existing areas of the program that clinicians could use a refresher on? How much time do you have allotted for each session? Once you have these foundational questions answered, you can begin putting the lesson plan down in writing. Try to structure the plan as a narrative, giving stories to the test patients your class will be using. This approach allows you to introduce the upgraded features within the context of clinical scenarios that users will be familiar with. Have clinical leadership help to make sure the scenarios are realistic and accurate.
3. Focus on Existing Organizational Workflows
One of the biggest challenges in conducting a training session is keeping a class of providers and nurses engaged and motivated to learn about upgraded features. Nurses and providers are extremely busy professionals, and their primary focus is patient care. They are much more concerned with taking care of their patients than with learning how to use software. Once you have these clinicians in your classroom, the last thing you want is for them to feel like you are telling them how to do their jobs. With this in mind, be careful to only introduce necessary changes when designing in-class exercises and demonstrations. Although Epic may have recommended workflows designed for certain areas of the program, you should first research the practices of your own organization to see what clinicians are already doing. If their current workflows are effective and can be easily integrated with new upgrade features, then there is no reason to change them. Training within the context of established workflows allows for a less stressful transition to the updated software.
4. Be Flexible and Adapt to Change
No matter how much effort is put forth into preparation for an upgrade training, unexpected changes will undoubtedly arise during the course of training. Perhaps the build team is still working hard to iron out some system quirks. Maybe the committee in charge of change control is still deliberating on the best way to implement a certain piece of the upgrade. It could be that clinical leadership decides that a specific provider group doesn’t need any instruction for the upgrade after all. Regardless of what unavoidable bump in the road presents itself, what matters is how you react to it. Stay calm, get input from all parties involved, and make the best decision the situation allows.
5. Follow-Up with Users Once Training is Complete
While the last day of training may make you feel like your job is complete, don’t rest easy just yet. You need to address any unanswered questions or unresolved issues that came up during the training period. Make this task easier by planning ahead. During training, it is inevitable that users will present questions that trainers may not have the answers to. Have trainers write these questions down and submit them to a central location. When trainers have time outside of the classroom, have them research the answers to these questions and post them where users can easily find them. You could send out a weekly e-mail to all users addressing the most common issues, or find a space on your organization’s website for a Frequently Asked Questions section. The specific method you choose isn’t the important thing here. What really matters is that you are following through on the concerns of the clinicians that took time out of their already-busy schedules to attend your trainings. In turn, they will feel more confident and ready to utilize the software you just worked so hard to train them on.