D'Arcy Gue

Improving Hospital Help Desk Workflow

December 26, 2012

Healthcare IT 3 Minute Read

This post is the fourth in a series focused on one of the biggest IT nuts-and-bolts problems in healthcare organizations. If you want to start at post #1, go here.

In my last post, we investigated root causes of help desk customers’ frustration with their help desks and identified potential solutions. But if we really want to work on improving hospital help desk processes, there’s more work to do.

Let’s  focus on our service communications where users are happy because their norm is to circumvent the avenues established for a controlled IT environment. In other words, they seek out IT management automatically. What are the root causes of this situation?

If you’ve followed along with our past Work Sheet assignments, now it’s time to use the same approach to analyze why some users are so happy with IT management support, that they routinely avoid using the help desk.  A few examples:

  • Some users may have found that certain IT managers have been SO helpful in the past that they won’t consider contacting anyone else. Though this is a testimony to the manager’s relationship-building skills, it is counter productive overall.
  • Some IT managers may not realize that their handling of help desk needs outside of the established work flow negatively effects the organization. Even if they enjoy the relationships they’ve generated, such disruptions in standard processes are confusing to help desk staff, and send the wrong message to users.
  • Our happy customers may not know of the procedures to engage IT for support.

Potential fixes for these situations include:

  • Align all IT staff with  the IT department’s standard methods to engage in all work types such as: break/fix, small planned changes, projects, and maintenance to ensure.
  • Offer education sessions to users to clarify service processes, and include (as presenters!) IT management staff that have allowed the rules to get fuzzy.
  • IT management must commit to routing help requesters, including peers, through the appropriate work flow. If the manager remains uncomfortable with this, chances are that service work flow procedures have not been sufficiently refined. Go back, and do more repair!
  • There’s no reason why, in this more efficient environment, customers can’t still feel “special.” Managers can achieve this by taking a special interest during walk-arounds. They should periodically follow up with customers personally, even if it’s a short check-in. If issues are uncovered, the manager should immediately follow up.

All said and done, the most significant thread discussed in this blog series is the importance of established workflow to a sustainably efficient IT department. Where help desk service is inadequate or unsatisfactory, we’ve considered common scenarios, discussed seeking out and analyzing root cause data, and  suggested potential solutions. Now you “just” have to do the work.

When you are successful, IT management will be able to manage, the help desk will be able to route requests efficiently, and staff will be able to focus on their prioritized objectives. But your hospital’s senior management won’t even know what has happened unless they reflect back and ask “how did you do that?”

I’d love to hear  about your experiences managing your organization’s help desk. What have you learned, and what answers have you found??



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