March 25, 2021
Many hospital service desks have all the equipment, software tools, standards, and certifications needed to do an exceptional job in supporting their users. They’ve bought the software and employ an appropriately sized staff. On the surface, this may look right. Yet hospital providers from the largest health systems to 25-bed critical access facilities are dogged by poor help desk performance and frustrated, unhappy physician users. Here is one elephant-sized reason for this painful problem, plus solutions your service desk should offer to get the central job done — meeting the needs of users quickly, accurately and professionally.
Lack of custom configuration of service desk software.
There is a big difference between installing service desk software tools, configuring them, and customizing them to your hospital environment. Installing means pushing a few buttons and setting the basic features that your software vendor offers to get the application up and running for you. But almost all service desk software is generic, not designed for a particular industry. This is where customized configuration takes center stage, especially in our unique healthcare environment. Your service desk software should have been customized to your organization and its users’ needs, whether through interfaces with other systems, specialized user tools, or reports that are unique to you, and likely much more. These customizations take time and expertise, and most service departments can’t take the time, or don’t have the resources to do so.
Let’s face it. Help desk…service desk…whatever your hospital calls it, is not high on any hospital’s visionary planning agenda. It’s seen as a basic but necessary utility to most executives, business managers, and even IT staff. The scenario looks simple: you buy the software, you set it up (usually in the IT staff’s spare time), you hire some phone support workers and provide basic training, and you’re live. Hopefully, you have set up key performance indicators, tracking and reporting, but maybe not. Now, IT managers can go on to more important projects, right? Most hospital executives don’t know that IT may have completed only the basics in configuring their service desk systems, without executing a strong needs-based configuration to fully support users’ workflows and procedures sustainably, especially as internal technologies and user needs change. And it would not be unusual if key best-practice ITIL support standards had not been put in place — a serious mistake.
The result? Improperly configured hospital IT support systems can quickly degrade into dysfunctional technical and usability messes — and painful headaches for the entire organization. What is surprising is how long so many hospitals tolerate these issues, often for years.
Today, service desks must be able to expand their support beyond bare bones basics, to meet the challenges that new internal technologies have created for the organization. For example, your service desk should offer:
Today’s hospital service desk can no longer afford to be the basic utility of the past — usually comprised of a cobbled together group of people, knowledge, standards, procedures, monitoring and reporting. It must become its own system — an innovative, methodical, highly skilled business technology services hub, centered on the clinical process. The long-term goal should be to become a trusted advisory service that explains and promotes best use of applications and technologies to maximize productivity, improve healthcare quality and, yes, even reduce costs.
It is time for hospital CIOs and service desk leaders to become more strategic and proactive in anticipating how best to meet clinical support needs going forward. If this evolution isn’t already starting in your hospital, it should. The speed-of-light pace of change in user needs will only increase.
We have witnessed the service debacles that many hospitals, large and small, are experiencing and have continued to tolerate for many years. Sometimes, hospitals call us simply to get some consulting advice on how they can upgrade their service desks’ performance. We’re happy to provide it. Sometimes hospitals want to get out of the service desk business and let a dedicated professional hospital service desk provider outsource their IT user support.
Shameless self-promotion ahead: Black Book Research has rated Phoenix #1 hospital IT department outsourcing provider two years in a row.
We are an onshore 24X7X365 onshore outsourcer based in Richardson, Texas that has served dozens of hospitals, large and small, nationwide. We meet or exceed the best results in the business, from metrics to cost-savings — and are 100% referenceable.