Significant consolidation in the healthcare industry over the past several years has resulted in more complex backend technology and systems as networks get larger. Kaufman Hall’s 2018 M&A in Review report identified the emergence of a “mega mergers” trend that results in the growth of large regional health systems as providers look for ways to adapt to a shifting care delivery landscape.
But large, complex organizations magnify the challenges healthcare information technology teams face in a sector where it’s already difficult to manage distinct sets of user groups, changing priorities and technological advances. The challenge of coping with constant change takes a toll on IT teams across all industries, including healthcare. A recent SysAid/ITSM.tools survey of IT teams found that 84% believe that working in IT will get “more difficult” over the next three years, and 72% feel “undervalued.”
Those statistics suggest that a new approach to providing IT support and service/asset management may be in order. With help from an IT support desk and asset management provider, internal healthcare IT can overcome some of the toughest technology challenges they face, including:
- Improving technology service and asset availability
- Increasing service and support capabilities while cutting costs
- Achieving digital transformation
- Continuously improving performance
Improving technology service and asset availability
The stakes are higher in healthcare. In other industries, when service is down or assets and equipment are unavailable, it’s an inconvenience that can have bottom-line impact. At a hospital, the same technical issue or offline device can be a matter of life or death, increasing the pressure on IT. A service desk can provide relief on traditional IT infrastructure and service to improve the experience for staff and patients alike, plus provide critical device support.
The right service management software can assist with network-based availability monitoring, keeping an eye on status and alerting hospital IT staff when they detect an issue. The advantage to this approach is that it’s proactive; rather than waiting for someone to report an issue, the service management software can detect events automatically.
An IT platform can also provide relief by effectively managing IT and non-IT assets to improve control, compliance and cost efficiency. The right platform can provide tools to manage a broad range of devices and operating systems, including mobile devices, with a built-in asset management solution that enables hospital staff to view, secure and manage assets from the service desk, eliminating ticket management complexity and facilitating faster resolution.
Healthcare organizations evaluating the IT service management tools available on the market should look for options that use a single endpoint technology-based agent. This approach streamlines and enables the process of asset monitoring, remote control, patch management and software license management, simplifying these critical functions for the organization’s internal IT team.
Getting “better, faster, cheaper” service and support
Organizations of all types share the goal of “better, faster, cheaper” service and support capabilities. In medical settings, achieving this objective is complicated by the need to serve distinct customer groups (patients, medical staff, administrators, etc.). But a service desk solution that incorporates best practices and support processes is a great place to start for organizations of every type since it improves quality.
For healthcare organizations, implementing service automation and self-service tools can not only lead to faster resolution of IT issues, it can reduce spending on support functions so that the healthcare provider can invest more in clinical staff. A self-service portal, for example, can provide 24/7 support from multiple device types, providing a way to log and monitor tickets, access FAQs, facilitate organizational workflows and more, not just for IT but for multiple departments.
Self-service IT capabilities like a password reset and hotkey feature can also increase productivity and relieve pressure on the internal IT team. It’s especially important in a healthcare environment, where people are on the job around the clock, and where critical equipment tends to be shared among staff members who access digital services with their credentials.
Backend service desk automation functions can also improve service and support for medical and administrative staff. Capabilities like automated routing, escalation rules and priority setting (medical vs. administrative, for instance) can significantly improve operations. For example, healthcare organizations can prioritize support for care-related applications like EMR/EHR systems over administrative support.
Achieving digital transformation
Digital transformation to improve operations and outcomes is another goal shared by organizations of all types. In the healthcare environment, deploying IT support and service/asset management best practices can help the organization reach back-office digital transformation goals, which delivers automation and enabling capabilities that extend far beyond IT.
For example, the work management resources that streamline IT support and service delivery can also drive automation and enablement in HR, facilities, finance or administration. That’s in addition to the benefits provided specifically to healthcare workflows, such as patient records management and medication services monitoring.
When evaluating IT support and service/asset management tools, it’s a good idea to assess the service desks’ ability to separate support provision and access permissions by user groups. Platforms with that capability can limit what internal administrators for each group can access rather than requiring the purchase of separate solutions to serve each group.
Gaining visibility into performance
Organizations across the board use business intelligence and analytics to gauge performance and identify areas for improvement. Working with an IT support and service/asset management software that provides reporting, business intelligence and analytics capabilities can provide healthcare providers with unparalleled insight into performance management and operational improvement opportunities, and not just in the IT department.
For example, with the right platform, a healthcare organization can monitor the efficiency of non-IT processes, such as patient testing, new staff onboarding, facilities management, workplace safety and other functions. The more processes the organization uses service management tools to facilitate, the more opportunities the organization has to improve operations.
Business intelligence tools can also pick up trends and identify issues that human data analysts would otherwise miss, identifying issues on the IT side to speed up problem resolution and also pointing to opportunities to streamline and improve processes across the organization. Medicine usage rates, staffing levels and facilities management activities are just a few examples of possible applications.
The healthcare organization can also gain insight on IT performance by comparing its KPIs to healthcare IT departments across the country and around the world by selecting a platform with benchmarking capabilities. With the ability to compare performance on key IT metrics with other healthcare IT organizations’ scores, the internal IT team can set goals and continuously improve.
Tackling healthcare IT’s toughest challenges
As the pace of technological change accelerates, enterprise leaders across industries are looking for ways to adapt to new expectations and use their resources more efficiently. Healthcare organizations contend with the same forces that drive nonclinical businesses, but due to the nature of their mission, the stakes are even higher.
With budget shortfalls and limited resources, healthcare IT teams often struggle to improve technology service and asset availability, increase support capabilities while cutting costs, achieve digital transformation and pursue continuous performance improvement. Partnering with an IT support and service/asset management expert can help relieve the pressure.
Healthcare organizations that find the right IT support and asset management provider are better able to manage the complex requirements of staff, administrators, providers and patients, accommodating the various levels of need, criticality and technical expertise within each group. The right partnership can make healthcare IT’s toughest technology challenges much easier to manage.
Doron Youngerwood is the director of product marketing for SysAid Technologies.Favorite