The HDI (Help Desk Institute) Support Centre Practices & Salary Report found that 75% of healthcare support centres have seen an increase in ticket volume over the last year.1 Hospital IT Departments across the country are stretched to their limits implementing new technologies and EHR systems, as well as dealing with security and privacy issues while struggling with government mandates like ICD-10. In addition, support calls to hospital Service Desks are increasing, especially from clinicians, due to complicated technologies deployed across the organization.
Often these support centres lack a proven structure for call management and prioritization, with calls for assistance arriving via multiple channels, including auto logging, phone and voice mail, email, chat, fax, mobile app, social media, or walk-up, as well as other means.
Issues hospital Service Desks typically contend with on a daily basis include lack of clarity in calls with no definition of the problem, loss or drop of calls, lack of realisation of the importance or urgency of a call by the Service Desk staff, paucity in proper prioritisation of calls, ignorance of the service desk personnel in terms of responsible staff for various operations, an overwhelming volume of calls at the service desk.
Without a structured process for receiving, prioritizing and properly assigning support calls for efficient workflow, the result is often chaotic and unmanageable for an already overworked Service Desk staff. Escalating costs are another critical issue facing hospital Service Desks. The HDI Support Center survey found 59% of hospitals provide 24-hour support. This can become extremely expensive, especially when professionals with clinical expertise are used for higher levels of service. The HDI Survey provides some insight on the cost of various levels of support per request. Although this white paper includes all industries, hospitals comprised approximately 12.1% of respondents.
Given that a typical hospital Service Desk handles thousands of calls over the course of a year, costs can quickly become a concern. Consequently, Service Desks are often the target of budget cuts. The 2014 HIMSS Workforce Survey identified the Help Desk category as the second most common area in healthcare IT targeted for layoffs. It is interesting to note that this same survey identified the Help Desk as one of the top areas with the most new hires and in the top four areas where providers plan to hire, indicating these critical support positions may experience turnover more frequently than other areas.