D'Arcy Gue

The New Hospital IT Service Desk

November 4, 2014

Healthcare IT, IT Service Desk 3 Minute Read

The number of hospitals with a basic electronic health records (EHR) system has more than tripled since 2010. With this dramatic change, and the increased use of new technologies and devices within hospitals, the demand for Service Desks to deliver a greater contribution and value to hospital IT users has grown exponentially.

The fact is, Service Desks must evolve to reflect the extraordinary changes in the hospitals that they support. The pace of these changes will accelerate, with the move of healthcare providers into Meaningful Use / MIPS Stage 2 and technology-based components such as use of patient portals. We also will continue to see increases in participation in health information exchanges and accountable care organizations. The new age of Meaningful Use / MIPS will require a more “meaningful” Service Desk environment than ever before.

keyboard trendsTrends:

  • Many hospitals are transitioning between platforms. As a result, users need simultaneous Service Desk support for the old and the new — both the old legacy applications and new systems, including but not limited to new EHRs.
  • Hospital systems and applications are increasingly sophisticated, and therefore more complex — translation: more capable but more difficult to work with than in the past. This trend, will continue beyond current expectations, if the last five years are any example.
  • So far, more complex new systems in hospitals means more service tickets — in many cases, a great many more.
  • Users — yes, even physicians — are becoming more tech-savvy. New generations of hospital staff have been required to use technology throughout their education. Clinicians are beginning to accept a world where EHRs, CPOE and bar coded medication administration are standard.

IT Service Desks must evolve to reflect the extraordinary communications-based changes in our society, in healthcare applications, in technologies, and in the specific organization that they support. In addition to operating at the quality improvement levels they have now, the new Service Desk will need to find cost-effective, time-saving ways to reduce end-user calls. For example, we’re seeing a move to self-service applications, such as self-service reset password applications.

Service desks should also be able to expand their support beyond the basics, to add greater value to the organization. For example:

  • Create self-help resources for customer services that can be automated in your environment. These include password resets, account unlocking, system tips, etc.
  • Monitor services such as applications, emails, security, and network.
  • Monitor data for performance metrics.
  • Provide incident/problem reporting trend analysis, including conducting regular incident trend analysis sessions with key user representatives.
  • Manage information gained by the support team, cleaning and re-purposing it
    where appropriate to create a powerful knowledge repository.
  • Apply service management processes selectively and in a balanced way so that inappropriate efforts aren’t expended that don’t offer significant value.
  • Analyze the 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.

The hospital Service Desk of the future can no longer afford to be the basic utility of the not so distant past. It must become an innovative, 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 reduce costs.

It is time for hospital CIOs and Service Desk leaders to become 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.

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