What Our Kids Can Teach Us About EMR Implementations

Posted on October 25, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I occasionally help out in my church’s children’s worship and education areas, and so sometimes receive emails with helpful articles and words of advice from the children’s ministry. These usually focus on how to best interact with kids who are not shy about asking big questions that often leave even senior pastors stumped.

The most recent email had to do with “How welcoming is your ministry to children and their parents?” As I read through the message, I realized much of it could be applied to the healthcare setting, particularly an EMR implementation. With the switch of a few words, the headline could read, “How welcoming and inclusive is your EMR implementation game plan to your end users?”

Tips on being welcoming include:

1. Build Communication: Sometimes what scares kids is other kids. They need to learn how to talk to one another. By playing simple icebreaking games and including time for conversation, you’re fostering friendship and a sense of community.

The EMR Implementation Twist: While I can’t speak to what individual participants in an EMR implementation team might be scared of (each other? Higher ups? The EMR itself?), I can get behind the need for communication. Simple icebreaking exercises and time for conversation seem like great first steps in building a cohesive team looking to be able to successfully get through a go live.

2. Ownership: Allow kids to take ownership of their ministry. Give them jobs and responsibilities they enjoy. Letting kids form a welcoming team or allowing them to help set up for snack are simple and easy ways for them to be a part of the team.

The EMR Implementation Twist: The takeaway here is that team members need to feel valued, which will likely engender pride in the implementation. Many of you have heard of the need for physician champions during times of HIT implementation; these are the types of team members that can be tapped to take ownership of the project and share their enthusiasm with less-involved (or downright stubborn) colleagues.

3. Get to Know Your Kids: All of them. Make them feel loved. Not just with a prize or a piece of candy for coming. Get down on their level and talk with them. Let them know that you’re their friend. It sounds simple, but for a kid who feels like an outsider, this could mean the world.

The EMR Implementation Twist: Get to know your teammates. All of them. Make them feel appreciated. If you’re a project leader, make a point to check in with them every so often, and not just about the implementation. It could be via email or text, but a phone call or quick chat in the hallway might make more of an impact. Let everyone know that the lines of communication are always open. An open door is even better.

I have to add a fourth tip: Give thanks. Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Kids light up when I tell them, “I’m so glad you’re here!” Frankly, I’m not that much different. Remember to take the time to thank your teammates for the job they are doing, even though it may be bumpy at times.

These are obviously simple tips, but sometimes we need to take a step back and reassess the fundamentals before moving on. Are there any additional tips you’d like to share? Know of an effective way to put team members in time out? Let me know via the comments below.