According to the 2019 Industry Outlook Report, improving the patient journey is a common focus for healthcare organizations; 42 percent of survey respondents indicated updating technology to improve the patient experience is their top objective. Though patient satisfaction is crucial for organization success, increasing staff retention and fulfillment also continues to remain a priority, especially in light of ongoing clinician shortages.
With healthcare already in the midst of payment shifts, increased consumer expectations, and ongoing staff shortages, the last thing an overburdened provider needs is a frustrating interaction with one of the applications they rely on to treat and assist patients.
The IT service desk is the critical front-line for end-user engagement across the vast spectrum of clinical and financial healthcare technology in use at healthcare organizations today. As the entry point to users’ issue resolution and system utilization, IT service desk staff have an important role to play in user satisfaction – one that extends beyond a single support ticket or system hiccup.
In fact, driving stronger clinical and financial outcomes across health organizations relies heavily on the team’s ability to resolve technology issues quickly and effectively. For example, when IT service desk performance is strong, and users are assisted with speed, accuracy, and enthusiasm, organizations will be more likely to support IT programs and team members. And, when the service desk is seen as a central knowledge hub for end users, hospital staff feel supported and better able to do their jobs effectively.
Alternatively, if the IT service desk falters, is slow to respond, or leaves users hanging, the reputation and credibility of the whole IT team is put at risk. Productivity and efficiency can also be at risk if clinicians and healthcare business professionals are unable to access the information and systems needed to perform their jobs well. If systems are down, clinicians may be unable to effectively care for patients, which jeopardizes care quality and safety.
A supportive, personable, and engaged service desk team can make a significant difference when IT implements new, innovative technologies—whether they’re front-line solutions like telehealth, new payment capabilities, and patient portal support, or more behind-the-scene capabilities that take advantage of artificial intelligence insights. The same can be said when it comes to helping users navigate their EHR or revenue cycle technology upgrades.
Finding skilled IT service desk staff can be challenging in tight labor markets regardless of the industry. IT outsourcing specialists remove involuntary fluctuations as they provide help desk, implementation, and other IT support— tasks which 34 percent of survey respondents noted they would be interested in outsourcing in the 2019 Health IT Industry Outlook Survey.
Addressing service desk needs can drive increased user engagement and satisfaction—and ultimately support more efficient, effective clinical and financial operations. By looking past traditional, “first-tier” support, organizations can better understand the system-specific support needed for their EHR. Additionally, leveraging experts across various aspects of an organization’s IT system (go-live support when new applications are launched, when EHR new version upgrades occur, or when growing organizations acquire new facilities requiring system transition) can seamlessly ease burdens across staff and better manage peak patient volumes.
With expert support available at any time, staff can resolve issues quickly and stay focused on patient care. Staff and patients alike can get their technology-related questions answered quickly improving satisfaction and perception of the healthcare organization in providing the modern, easily accessible services they desire.
Modern service desk support capabilities integrating real-time data analytics insights can help healthcare organizations better understand how their systems are being used across the organization. This insight can pinpoint workflow spikes, uncover access issues, and highlight the most common end-user errors. Further, education gaps can be made transparent using incident analysis and allow for IT to intervene. This could lead to deeper training and assistance, better user adoption, reduced technology burnout, and most importantly, fewer clinical care delays.
Ultimately, IT organizations that recognize service desk’s vital role are more prepared to address the needs and challenges of their hospital staff. The service desk can be a conduit to increased satisfaction and engagements of staff AND patients alike—supporting organizational mandates around improving the patient experience while keeping staff productive. That’s the kind of transformative change healthcare organizations need when addressing today’s healthcare imperatives around patient care and quality.
Joncé Smith is vice president of revenue cycle management at Stoltenberg Consulting, Inc.