Team EMR

June 24, 2011
The success of EMR teams has been proven — people collectively collaborating on the build, customization, implementation and support of systems and

The success of EMR teams has been proven — people collectively collaborating on the build, customization, implementation and support of systems and helping to achieve the goals of their healthcare organizations.

While an EMR team can be very productive and make tremendous contributions, due to varying levels of experience, knowledge, skills and other factors, individual team members may not work to their potential and may not feel professionally fulfilled. The challenge becomes how to maximize the productivity of the team and the potential of each team member.

One solution is to organize job roles so that people have both team and individual responsibilities. There are several benefits to this approach:

The team versus individual can better address issues and opportunities.

  • Multiple people performing the same role allow a sharing of the support load.

  • Service levels are maintained if a team member is out of the office or on vacation.

  • Team members are able to make individual contributions.

  • Individuals have accountability and a sense of accomplishment in completing work on their own.

  • Management can measure the contributions and development needs of each person.

    EMR efforts

    An EMR effort can involve all these tasks:

    • System build/testing

    • Department/site customization

    • Go-live readiness efforts

    • Training

    • Phased implementations (where system modules are rolled out at different times)

    • Go-live support

    • Supporting implemented departments/sites

    • Monitoring interface data

    • Merging duplicate accounts

    • Post implementation visits (to observe usage and workflow, make recommendations and provide additional training)

    • Testing upgrades

    • Other efforts

    Assigning team vs.individual responsibilities

    For the EMR project manager, the key is to define, and continually refine, team and individual roles and assignments. Consider the diagram on the previous page. One approach is to have everyone on the team be responsible for go-live and post implementation support. Beyond that, one or more team members would be responsible for certain system modules or efforts.

    Challenges of the team approach

    There are challenges to the team vs. individual approach that need to be monitored and managed:

    Within an EMR team, members will have differing levels of:

    • Experience with the EMR system

    • Knowledge of the healthcare organization where the EMR is to be implemented

    • Clinical and technical experience

    • Skills needed for particular tasks

    • Interest in learning and doing a task

    • Team dynamics — including seniority, personalities and work ethic

    • Short term vs. longer term efforts — giving each proportional time and focus

    • Introverted vs. extroverted tasks — balancing the required skills

    • Moving from one assignment to another — effectively starting and completing the transition

    Some individuals have the skills to successfully juggle short vs. longer term efforts and introverted vs. extroverted tasks and can easily move from one role or assignment to the next. Others may need help. Mentoring and continual cross-training can ensure that support levels are maintained and team members continue their professional development.

    Roles and responsibilities

    By effectively assigning EMR team/individual roles and responsibilities and managing the challenges, the productivity of the team and the contributions of each team member can be maximized, project goals can be more easily achieved, the highest service and support levels can be maintained and team members can be best developed for future assignments.

    Pam Taylor ( [email protected]) is a senior healthcare consultant with Hayes Management Consulting, Newton, Mass

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