D'Arcy Gue

The #1 Reason Hospital Service Desks Fall Short With Their Users

July 14, 2017

IT Service Desk 4 Minute Read

Many hospital service desks have all the equipment, software tools, standards, and certifications needed to do a bang-up job in supporting their users. They appear to employ an appropriately sized staff, even though it may be stretched by other responsibilities. Yet hospital providers from the largest health systems to 25-bed critical access facilities are dogged by poor help desk performance and unhappy physician users. Here is one elephant-sized reason for this painful problem.

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 business objectives or visionary planning agenda. It’s seen as a simple but necessary utility to most business and clinical staff, and even to IT staff. You buy or subscribe to the software, you set it up (usually in the IT department’s spare time) — and then IT can go on to more important projects, right? Most hospital executives don’t know that IT has done only what it could to configure their service desk systems, but probably didn’t or couldn’t execute the well-planned, needs-based configuration that would appropriately support users’ workflows and procedures sustainably as internal technologies and user needs change.

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:

  • Self-help resources for customer services that can be automated in your environment. These include password resets, account unlocking, system tips, etc.
  • Real-time monitoring of services such as applications, emails, security, and network.
  • Monitoring of data for performance metrics.
  • Providing incident/problem reporting trend analysis, including conducting regular incident trend analysis sessions with key user representatives.
  • Managing information gained by the support team, cleaning and re-purposing it
    to create a powerful and sustainable knowledge repository.
  • Applying standardized service management processes in a balanced way to provide ideal service without expending efforts that don’t offer significant value.
  • Analyzing data gathered through all support channels to identify trends and problems with your support services as well as behavior trends and expectations of users.
  • It should go without saying that your service desk is designed around ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), acknowledged world-wide as the framework of best practices to manage IT operations and services.
  • Using configuration management procedures that have been standardized across the technology world to maintain sustainability and value of software investments.
  • Consistently providing up-to-the-minute training and certification of dedicated service desk staff.

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 longterm 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.

Yes, we are a hospital service desk outsourcing firm, but the point is that we know what we are talking about here. 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 out of the service desk business and let a dedicated professional hospital service desk provider outsource their IT user support.

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. If you’d like to talk, please contact us!


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