Let’s not beat around the bush: Changing or upgrading the EMR – or adding components like integrated scheduling software – can evoke a variety of negative reactions in nurses and non-clinical staff members alike. Not infrequently, grumbling may emanate from clinicians and administrators at the mention of an “upgrade” or “new implementation” because the process can be so painful.
But it doesn’t have to be.
If you clench your jaw at the thought of adding or changing clinical software programs and components, relax. Here are three ways you can make the process not just less painful, but truly enjoyable for everyone involved.
1. Involve nurses early
Today’s frontline nurses rely heavily on electronic charts to inform their practice, which means the process of switching or upgrading EMRs – or adding new software components like ShiftWizard – have the potential to cause them more pain than any other staff population. To ease their fears and possible resistance, be sure to obtain nurse input early in the process. Form task forces or committees that include frontline nursing representatives to review new software, create lists of desired features, and provide feedback based on simulations in a test environment. By engaging nurses in this way, you not only show respect for these valued clinicians but also receive valuable input to allow your organization to choose the best product for your particular needs.
2. Incentivize superusers
Encourage nurses and other staff members to volunteer as superusers by offering incentives for participation. The best rewards will be reserved for the superusers alone (such as tickets to a sporting event, concert or live theater performance) or hold a high convenience value, such as a premium parking space rotated among super-users on a schedule. But don’t stop there. You also should consider rewarding nurses and other staff who attend trainings or practice sessions. Gamifying the experience by offering badges or perks to those who are the first to complete specific “missions” using the software can inject a fun element of friendly competition while everyone learns the new system.
3. Find your evangelists and let them sing
If the software you choose delivers as promised, your staff will find it easy to learn and use on an everyday basis. As staff members discover these benefits of the software, some of them will become evangelists who can’t wait to tell everyone how great the new product is. That was the case with a ShiftWizard roll-out at a cancer-focused medical system spread across three states. Users found ShiftWizard so easy to use and so beneficial to their daily lives that they passionately advocated for adoption of the software throughout the organization. Your hospital or health system can harness this same power of peer-to-peer feedback by identifying the product’s evangelists and providing them with a platform. Perhaps you publish regular success stories in the staff newsletter or invite an evangelist to address a committee or employee group. Hearing great things about a software package from a fellow staff person can help employees view implementation as something to look forward to.
The prospect of changing or upgrading the EMR or adopting new software can cause many nurses to feel trepidation. But if you take steps to involve nurses early in the process, incentivize those who jump in wholeheartedly and encourage the product’s evangelists to tell their stories, you can relieve the pain of implementation and make it – dare we say – enjoyable for everyone involved.