D'Arcy Gue

Hospital IT Help Desk: Sift Through the Negatives.

December 14, 2012

Healthcare IT 4 Minute Read

This post is the third in a series focused on one of the biggest IT nuts-and-bolts problems in hospitals. To start with the first post, go here.

In my first two posts in this series, we investigated the symptoms of  a seriously dysfunctional help desk, and we talked about how to gather and organize relevant data in to analyze the problems.

Today, let’s analyze some typical negative user communications to identify the root causes of their frustrations, find potential solutions, and provide a more satisfying experience in the future. Chances are, you found one or more of these examples in Column 2  of your discovery phase Worksheet…See Part 2 of this series.

Example #1 – The customer said: “I called the help desk and I have a ticket, but I never heard or saw anyone from IT.”

First, investigate the ticket details including the ticket log (history). How many “hops” did the ticket take? Is the ticket assigned to any group or individual? Is it the correct group/individual?

  • Is it possible there is no one assigned responsibility to the particular task in the department. or that no individual has the skills?
  • Is the request out of scope of the IT department, but teams don’t know how to handle a non-standard request?
  • It could indicate that the help desk knowledge base isn’t up to date, and the help desk doesn’t know how to route the request.
  • The internal teams may not know enough about each other’s responsibilities to assign the ticket. Is more in-house education needed?

Investigate each of these areas and document the findings in Column 5 of your Worksheet.

Second, compare what communication should have been done on this ticket vs. what was actually done (documented in the ticket).

  • Is there a documented workflow for the category of this issue? If not, there should be, and that will need to be remedied.
  • If there is a documented workflow for the category, ensure that communication is addressed to provide notification to the customer as appropriate.
  • Customer communication is an excellent SLA, KPI, or personal goal to report if the help desk system can be configured accordingly. Is such management reporting in place?

Again, document your findings in Column 5 of your worksheet.

Example #2: The customer said: “I put in a ticket for an application change, but I need it for Monday! It’s a regulatory issue, and I won’t be able to submit claims after then.”

  • This could be an issue similar to  Example #1 where there was a ticket entered, but IT did not respond in a timely manner.
  • It could truly be an urgent issue that needs management assistance to reschedule priorities of other planned work.
  • Or, have regulatory issues been communicated early and appropriately? Establish who in the organization is responsible for regulatory change initiatives and will sponsor such change requests.

Document the findings in Column 5 of your Worksheet.

Example #3: The customer complained: “I can’t see any reason that interface can’t be done for Friday!”

  • Investigate how project requests are to be submitted, reviewed, approved/denied, communicated, and entered into the IT work calendar. It is possible that help request methods for customers are not clearly defined. Or, perhaps users need more education.
  • Investigate the project scope documentation and project communication to ensure the requestor understands the schedule, cost, and impact of the request. It is possible that the project has gone through the ranks, but has not been defined to the customer sufficiently to inform of the scope, impact, and cost.

Document the findings in Column 5 of your worksheet

In all of these scenarios, there are indicators that the IT organization may have failed to meet the customers’ needs well before any technical work has been started. We may not have configured our procedures for the non-technical services that our customers need.

By now, you’ve gained information that will help you work with your team to create and implement better procedures and practices.  Once in place, monitor their effectiveness and refine where necessary.Your users and help desk staff will realize better relationships and more customer satisfaction — and your management will be happy that service issues will no longer be front and center on their plate.

My last post in this series will discuss evaluating positive customer contacts with the help desk. There may be room for improvement even when there are good relationships and proper procedures and practices. Stay tuned…

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