D'Arcy Gue

Service Desk: We’ll Provide Your Hospital a Free Assessment!

October 27, 2016

IT Service Desk 5 Minute Read

Once considered a basic utility, or just “extra work” for IT support staff, hospital service desks are increasingly recognized as a game changer for IT departments’ credibility within their organizations.   The evolution of information systems and their deep integration in hospital processes have put CIOs and their staff at the center of the healthcare treatment and revenue cycle environment. This also puts them in the line of fire when poor support interferes with the quality of the hospital’s patient care and overall operations.

Reaping the benefits of a first class “wow” service desk is not on the must do lists of many CIOs, most of whom can barely keep up with their organizations’ newest strategic initiatives. Let me challenge this perspective: sticking with a legacy service desk model in today’s highly charged IT environment may very well be penny wise and pound foolish. Here’s why:

Service desks are more than a basic IT utility. Here’s an example of the proven wisdom of upgrading a utility level IT function that was taken for granted for years: data storage. Moving data away from onsite or dedicated offsite servers to the cloud wasn’t on CIOs’ must-do lists either, even five years ago. But news of strong cost and management benefits, coupled with IT departments’ financial pressures, disrupted hospital leaders’ business-as-usual mindsets. Big promises were powerful change agents. Today, cloud storage solutions have become ubiquitous – and are definitely saving hospitals money.

Service desks’ image: no glam and no budget for change. Upgrading service desk technologies and processes doesn’t keep the C-Suite awake at night – or have the notoriety of new technologies like my example of cloud solutions. True, healthcare’s continuing evolution through better but more complex EHRs has resulted in major clinical process changes, business systems changes and high learning curves in hospitals, particularly for physicians and clinicians. And, true, the IT department is expected to make these changes work for users with minimal operational disruption and maximum “Meaningful Use / MIPS” of computer systems.

But what we’ve seen is that if users are unhappy with IT service…even if the CMO complains regularly to the CFO…it can often take a near civil war with management to transform IT service desks. IT departments cobble together clumsy work-arounds or worse, do nothing at all, especially if there is no budget to make substantive improvements.

Hospitals today are less satisfied with their service desks’ responsiveness and solutions than ever before.  User support requests have increased, often greatly, because of new EHRs and other systems – but without commensurate improvements in service desk capabilities.

Patients are the ultimate victims. The negative impact of not providing adequate service desk support stretches well beyond the satisfaction of hospital systems users. Let’s remember our patients, all of whom are affected by IT from the moment they register. Consider the patient following major surgery, whose nurse or physician gets a blank screen when trying to access the patient’s electronic medical record; or a radiologist who is hindered from seeing needed images in the ED because he or she doesn’t remember how to access a new system. When vital information is unavailable, patients may be at risk, and necessary care delayed. The level of IT support needed to ensure that these care activities continue seamlessly is critically important.

IT will continue to be pivotal in improving patient care and reducing costs. The fact that implementation of new Meaningful Use / MIPS-incentivized EHRs is over for most hospitals doesn’t mean that a 200-ticket backlog will no longer challenge under-performing service desks. IT must be able to to provide excellent support services to users of new mission-critical systems. And unlike many other industries, hospitals must be able to efficiently support user needs 24x7x365 — a very tall order. Evolution of new systems that are deeply imbedded in the hospital environment — including new security protections — have now more than ever made the IT department a direct influence on the quality of patient care.

Service Desk assessment…has your hospital conducted one in the last year? Leadership may be underestimating systems support needs and the consequences of inadequate service. How can it not, if it doesn’t have the data to know the difference? Every hospital service desk’s M.O. should include continuous measurement of key performance indicators, and results measurements based on ITIL standards. Costs – both direct and indirect – should be analyzed annually to create rational budgets. We’ve found that many hospitals do not understand their overall service desk costs. We’ve even seen large multi-hospital systems that had never delved into hidden costs such as non-ticketed support time, equipment replacement, knowledge base maintenance, training time, team incentives, turnover, poor coordination with EHR vendors, and much more.

Normally, HITpoint is dedicated to news and healthcare IT issues analysis and thought leadership. But, Phoenix recently has seen so many dysfunctional service desk environments, including physician complaints coupled with excessive support spending, that this blog post is an exception:

We are offering your hospital a free cost-benefit analysis of your service desk operation. Our methodology includes examining both your hospital’s direct and indirect support costs, via an in-depth questionnaire and personal interviews by our service desk leadership. You will receive a documented analysis. (We hope you will understand that we can make this offer only to individual hospitals with one service desk, as opposed to large multi-hospital systems. If yours is a two hospital system with one service desk, we can include you too!)

Without apologies, yes, Phoenix does offer hospital IT service desk outsourcing. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be qualified to offer this support. But we promise a fair, unbiased, analytical process and report.  If, after you receive our analysis, you want to discuss outsourcing your service desk — great. If not interested, that’s okay too. We are not high pressure folks.

For the record, Phoenix has managed hospital service desks from our Richardson, TX Service Desk Center for nearly ten years and we are 100% referenceable. We are experienced in all major hospital EHR platforms, and provide clinical support via experienced clinical systems experts. We also provide desktop, network monitoring and other infrastructure support. Our services meet or exceed the best in the healthcare business — and we will be glad to supply those metrics to you.

Please contact the Vice President of our Service Desk Center, Joe DiValerio at joe.divalerio@phoenixhealth.com to discuss this offer. Or, just fill in the form at Contact Us!


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