By James Quirke
Published 11 February 2020
Health Systems Training Strategy:
5 reasons why it is important
to do this early
Training is a critical success factor in the implementation of any complex digital system such as an Electronic Patient Record (EPR). However, delivering training of a new clinical system to thousands of employees within a very short training window (6-8 weeks) is extremely challenging and requires detailed strategic planning and preparation.
The early development of the training strategy is therefore essential for the successful outcome of the health systems training programme.
Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Aligning to your vision
The training strategy should align to the programme strategy which defines the approach for the EPR implementation. It should also align to your organisation’s vision for managing and transforming the way its people work and support the change approach. This will help shape the training strategy to meet aims and objectives and enables decisions to be made that align with the overall vision.
Early development will ensure an end-to-end learning journey is considered for each user, from awareness building at the start all the way to readiness at go-live.
Failure to align with your vision may result in a training approach that does not deliver against the programme strategy or worse, creates a cultural dissonance for the end users leading to poor engagement and adoption.
2. Identifying the correct champions
The training strategy should clarify the key objectives and outcomes expected as well as the choice of delivery approach. Identifying the correct executives, clinical and service leads to agree these and continue to champion them during the lifecycle of the programme is key to success. This is best done as early as possible to secure early sponsorship and is often done alongside the change management workstream as the champions may be responsible for overall people readiness.
Having an executive who engages with and supports the strategy will also give the training team confidence in their plans and the motivation to deliver them. This in turn creates a supportive “team” atmosphere and lays the foundation for effective collaboration between the training team and the client organisation. A lack of early buy in could create delays in agreeing the strategy or worse create issues when difficult decisions need to be made later in the implementation.
3. Making training part of the critical path
It is essential for the training team to consult with all programme workstream leads as well as individual departments within the organisation when designing the strategy. One of the key benefits of early engagement is to ensure that training or people readiness is central to the programme’s strategy and approach and that the programme plan ensures that training is on its critical path.
Achieving this requires collaboration between various workstreams to ensure they understand and support each other’s objectives, that dependencies are clearly identified, roles and responsibilities agreed, and timelines aligned. Effective collaboration will also:
- Bring people and teams closer together
- Help solve problems
- Help people and teams learn from each other
- Open communication channels
Without alignment between the training and change workstreams, the training team would be unable to analyse the needs of employees effectively which could have a significant impact on the ability to design and deliver a successful training programme.
Effective collaboration between workstreams will ensure:
The training team should also align timelines with the build and testing teams to ensure timely delivery of an effective training environment and ongoing updates – failure to complete this could see end users receive training on an environment that is very different from the production environment.
Finally, there should be alignment with the deployment and transition team to ensure training successfully supports any rehearsals, data migration and cutover preparation activities. This ensures that any end users taking part in these activities are appropriately trained as failure to do so could result in lack of end user confidence in the solution.
4. Creating the foundation for successful engagement
Early buy in creates a strong foundation for ongoing engagement with key stakeholders. Maintaining the engagement will help provide ongoing guidance as well as confidence that the strategy is on track. It also allows for the strategy to be an iterative process making it easier to update or amend accordingly.
Continuous engagement with staff most affected by the impending change is a critical success factor for the programme. The more they are involved with the programme, the more they will understand and accept the reasons for change and the more likely they are to embrace it. Making decisions without consulting those affected has the potential to damage the relationship between leadership and staff as well as leading to poor uptake of new processes and workflow. Engaging early is key to ensuring the right people are involved from the start.
5. Benefits realisation
Developing the training strategy early will lead to a more effective training programme resulting in greater benefits realisation, such as:
i) Increased productivity
Effective role specific training which reflects the new way of working for staff will lead to staff working more efficiently, using less time to enter information into the new system.
ii) Reduced costs
Delivering an effective training programme will ensure a smoother transition to business as usual. Employees that are utilising system functionality correctly are more proficient and effective. This reduces costs in several ways, including less reliance on expensive external resources (floorwalkers, at the elbow support, etc.) as well as allowing for outpatient clinics to return to full capacity, more quickly.
iii) Reduced risk
Reduced patient risk will be evident when staff have been trained effectively on safety features which are inherent in new EPR’s, such as safer prescribing and medicines administration.
Effective training will reduce human error when entering information and will enable timely, accurate data entry which, for example, will enhance bed management practices and provide accurate reporting for the organisation. Delivery of effective training will also reduce risk within outpatient teams through improved scheduling workflow, clinic administration and to inpatient teams by improving waiting list management.
In summary, to achieve the best outcome for NHS organisations in any EPR deployment, it is essential for a robust and effective training strategy to be in place early. This will not only ensure a smooth implementation but will also underpin the success of the new health system going forward, leaving a lasting legacy of support when transitioning to business as usual.
James Quirke is an EPR Training Manager for Ideal Health