Finding the right point person for your EHR

August 17, 2017

Assigning a “superuser” can help optimize EHR use and minimize disruptions by bringing necessary support skills to your practice.

For years, physicians have had a long list of frustrations with their electronic health record (EHRs) systems. However, they could minimize or even eliminate much of their frustrations by dedicating a “superuser” in their office.

“Everyone has different workflows, different processes, and they meet federal requirements in different ways, so you want someone who really understands how the software works with the processes in your office,” said Randi Terry, MBA, director of information services at Munson Healthcare, a regional nonprofit medical system in Traverse City, Michigan.

            The concept of a superuser exists in many other business areas. Although the term can mean slightly different things in different settings, superusers often have special privileges to access the system in order to administer and maintain it. They also have a higher level of training on the system so they can help others better use it.

            Terry said she has seen such positions in action at physician practices, where they were called a business informatics coordinator or senior business analyst.

            A superuser is not the same as a tech professional, Terry said.

The IT pro generally focuses on the computers, networking, servers, routers, Wi-Fi, etc., ensuring that all the software and hardware components are properly installed and functioning as they should be.

A superuser, on the other hand, is someone who has a superior knowledge of the software and how it can be best utilized.

            Terry noted that physicians themselves shouldn’t take this on. She said some very tech-minded doctors do indeed work well in this role but most don’t have the time, or inclination, to focus on software.

In fact, the point person doesn’t even need to be a clinical staffer, Terry said. Physicians could train an existing worker to do the job; larger practices could consider hiring someone for the position. Workers who like challenges and are skilled at problem solving and multitasking are good candidates. Office managers often assume the role but other staffers could also absorb the work within their existing positions.

 

Next: Finding the right fit

 

Finding the right fit

Regardless of the individual’s background, this staff member needs to receive advanced training in the EHR-something that vendors generally offer either at the practice, at their own facilities or electronically via webinars.

Additionally, this person should understand how the front and back office work as well as understand how the clinical side operates and how regulatory requirements fit in, “so they can make that software work for the practice,” Terry added.

She stressed that this position is not the same as bringing in a consultant. “They might give a best practice, and it might really be a best practice, but it might not work in that practice.”

            Terry said the advanced training and added skill set can pay off for the practice in several ways. These superusers can use their knowledge to:

  • help everyone in the office maximize their use of the EHR for clinical, regulatory and operational requirements;

  • instruct their colleagues on how to better utilize the system and help train new workers on its use;

  • guide physicians and other staffers through upgrades as features, functions and screens get added, changed or moved around; and

  • find opportunities to use the EHR to streamline processes and become more efficient and effective.