D'Arcy Gue

Are “Do-It-Yourself” Employees Raising the Costs of Your Hospital Operations?

May 22, 2014

ICD-10 3 Minute Read

Is your hospital a victim of a poor-performing Service Desk and do-it-yourself staff?

In a recent blog post, we discussed the hidden costs that impact Service Desk and hospital operations. The primary culprits when it comes to hidden costs are self-solution and involvement of other IT staff or hospital staff. These are problems that plague hospital operations, especially with the increased use of new systems and processes that has occurred over the last few years.

The table below contains definitions of three levels of service commonly used in analyzing Service Desk operations. Many Service Desks do not perform all of the Level 1 tasks, but clearly all those tasks do need to be performed. If the Service Desk is not resolving a particular Level 1 problem, someone else has to — commonly, higher cost analyst staff, vendor support staff, or hospital staff. Handling and resolution by most, if not all, of these alternative resources is more expensive than if handled by a well-trained Service Desk agent.

Service Levels Table

The chart below displays the average cost per ticket by service level to resolve a service request (across all industries in the US) as estimated by the Help Desk Institute (HDI). Clearly, the cost per ticket should be lower for Service Desks only handling Level 1 service requests. In a situation where Service Desk staff aren’t resolving the tickets, and instead, higher-paid staff are, the prices per ticket are going to get much higher.

Cost Per Ticket by Level

Let’s consider the reality of issues that require Service Desk attention. When a user has a problem, tickets often do not, at least initially, begin receiving attention by the Service Desk. Users with a problem may not initiate a ticket via a contact with Service Desk staff. Medical and other hospital staff may first spend time trying to solve the problem themselves — these are the “do-it-yourselfers”. Staff may also find it more convenient to involve a co-worker or associate in trying to resolve their IT problem. If the co-worker cannot assist, a common strategy is to call a favorite IT staff member who has helped in the past. This process and its financial impacts are illustrated below. These tactics are a time waster, and if habitual, create more cost for the hospital than originating a ticket with the Service Desk.

Service Desk Hidden Costs

The weaker or less trusted your Service Desk and/or your processes are, the higher the likelihood that higher-paid staff will be pulled in to resolve issues. Over time, this can become alarmingly expensive and difficult to control. As we’ve shown, employing non-Service Desk staff to resolve problems, raises the cost per ticket substantially. By implementing and enforcing processes, maintaining an responsive and knowledgeable Service Desk, your organization has more control over the cost / ticket and your operations and costs.

If your organization is implementing new systems or has recently done so, it may not be obvious to you that your Service Desk may be an urgent issue. However, you may very well start to see the financial impacts of inefficient problem resolution and the need to undo expensive problem resolution habits of hospital staff.

We recommend getting out ahead of the problem — analyze your systems user environment and service risks, and ensure that you have an effective Service Desk, either in-house or outsourced. If you’re concerned that your hospital is already experiencing this problem, perform a cost estimation assessment. Recently, we published a report, discussing the cost estimation process. You can download the report here. If you’re interested in getting help with your cost estimation, please contact us!

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