ward-priestmanBy: Ward Priestman
Healthcare IT Consultant, Priestman Consulting

Technology can be incredibly frustrating when it is out of step with evolving user requirements. For hospitals, dealing with challenges over printing issues, accessing records, and login faults can be excruciating; not to mention the additional pain points of requesting software and hardware because hospital personnel typically have to call the service desk to get what they need.

Currently, the process of receiving new technology can take up to three weeks on average. This is obviously a nightmare for clinicians who need access to an application quickly. It is also costly for the organisation – both in terms of lost productivity and additional software should a clinician decide to purchase it from an alternative source and charge it back to the organisation.

Then there are the additional time lags and delays to request help and fix issues.  The crux of the matter is that hospitals operate service desks in a traditional way. A user calling the general service desk will log their issue with a rep, but in many cases a more specialist resource is needed. As a result, most issues are not resolved at the first point of contact. This creates two problems:

  1. Fault resolution takes longer
  2. The service desk team spends longer tracking down clinicians – who by the nature of their role are roaming

In hospitals where human resources are overstretched at the best of times, clinicians simply don’t have the time to wait for the service desk to respond to an issue. Likewise, IT professionals don’t have the capacity to manage a series of voicemail messages back and forth between themselves and the clinician in a game of ‘telephone tennis’.

What’s needed is a cohesive organization with technology that is capable of automating and orchestrating the majority of trivial and mundane tasks currently driving the service desk meltdown. This would free-up vital resources to address strategic concerns. With todays’ technology, solutions for minor issues can easily be automated to give clinicians and other hospital staff the tools they need to be more self-sufficient.

To further improve service delivery and reduce wasted wait times, the IT organization should also be able to predict when the peaks in calls occur. Clinicians do ward rounds in the morning, so they usually identify IT issues then, resulting in a peak period just before lunchtime. There’s usually another peak period after lunchtime, because patient test results come back and clinicians are working on the results. When combined with extensive knowledge about each employee’s context, automation and self-service capabilities, IT can predict and respond to the majority of the technology needs of end users ahead of time.

Using automation and self-service technology for routine orders, fixes, and delivery is a win-win situation. IT staff can focus their expertise on more valuable tasks, and end users can solve their own problems rather than spend hours logged into a queue. The 24/7 environment engendered by technology is also attractive for hospitals, as queries can be quickly and efficiently resolved at any time of day – and computers do not need to be paid overtime!

But technology is not just for IT. Departments such as HR and Estates also have call centres that could benefit from a cohesive technology strategy that allows one to automate mundane tasks. This is what is being done at Royal Blackburn Hospital, which is looking to bring together the processes of HR and IT around new users and ordering new equipment. It also plans to extend this capability to Finance. So instead of departmentalising various processes, it is now possible to organise them around the individual to realise new levels of efficiency and productivity.

Let’s not let the conversation end here. Learn more about how automation and self-service IT can benefit your healthcare organisation and register now for my upcoming webinar with RES Software: