Quality IT Level 1 and 2 support is critical to a health system’s functionality, yet, it is repeatedly compromised as many organizations rely on internal IT departments. This often lacks the manpower to handle call volumes, technology to provide performance metrics/expertise, and time to resolve escalated incidents. When attempting to redeem issues and meet IT staffing needs, hospitals climb an uphill battle as they face many challenges. These challenges include: declining admission, reimbursement rates, shrinking budget and constant regulatory compliance changes. Daunting complications can seem like roadblocks when searching for support solutions that are effective, affordable and sustainable. Consequently, it is increasingly difficult for hospital leadership to provide facilities with adequate IT support that delivers consistent issue resolution, and end-user satisfaction.
Challenges IT Departments Face When Supporting Their User Community
As technology use increases in patient care, it expands the role and cost of IT departments. Hospitals work continuously to improve patient care, increase productivity and compete with others for patients and providers. All creating the need to find money to implement or upgrade existing systems to pursue efforts. As hospitals funnel money from IT budgets, to new projects, IT departments are left with scarce resources to handle project demand and provide adequate support for initiatives. For many IT teams, priorities range from maintaining data storage, end user devices, networks, applications and more IT infrastructures. All to ensure that systems are meeting standards and supporting needs of physicians and administrators who use them daily. Scaling to grow demand and efficiency are problems for many small IT departments as budget limitations force teams to do more with less people.
Projects can take months to implement and with IT teams mainly dedicated to completing these initiatives, it’s difficult for them to focus on routine support. Competing priorities affect the entire organization and as incident submissions rise, response to end-users become inconsistent. All resulting in clinicians and administrators being unable to resolve issues in a timely manner; creating a cycle of frustration between the IT staff, administrators, physicians and patients.
Lack of Enforced Support Process
At shift changes, call volumes tend to increase. Consequently, so do call wait-times and time to resolve issues. Even with fully staffed in-house IT teams, it’s difficult to match the call volume at peak hours. When users experience long wait times, their sense of urgency to have an issue resolved leads to bypassing help desk assistance. As a result, Level 2 or 3 support personnel are overwhelmed with direct calls and face-to-face encounters, leading to a majority of issues not being documented. The lack of an enforced support process creates inefficiencies. IT departments are unable to resolve issues in a timely manner and they fall into a constant routine of firefighting and re-prioritizing project tasks. Lack of repeatable and verifiable processes, make it impossible to track incidents consistently and find areas in which the organization as-a-whole can improve.
High Turnover Rates, Training and HR Costs
Level 1 IT support industry average, for the annual attrition rate, is estimated to be 40% annually, which means organizations spend a lot of their investment on hiring, overtime shift coverage and new hire training. The consistent turnover and HR burdens of recruiting, interviewing, on-boarding and training, leads to about 70% productivity for the typical support team, with 30% of that being spent on administrative tasks or paid time off. Usually, an organization is limited on resources that can be dedicated to providing support. Teams are spread thin due to scope creep in roles and responsibilities. As a result, facilities run the risk of even higher turnover rates. High turnover, and time dedicated to retraining, degrade quality assurance and don’t guarantee the support end users receive to be completely dedicated to issue resolution and excellent customer service.
Mergers, Acquisitions, Divestitures
Effects of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures touch every aspect of an organization as the process of aligning business initiatives, and integrating information systems, proves difficult and costly. As organizations transition to one operating system and eliminate the redundancies in IT, disruption ensues, and the need for quality IT support becomes even more critical. Hospital business goals are to gain, scale, and operate more efficiently. But the cultural shift for many organizations in the midst of growth, is difficult. As frustrations and questions arise, the support staff should be prepared to handle high call volumes, provide first call resolutions and track incidents. When shifts this drastic affect an organization, the chances for successful transitions can be enhanced through quality IT support.
Making the decision to outsource, for many hospitals, requires a cultural shift. Years of utilizing in-house IT resources to handle support, can create inconsistencies, such as, disrupted workflows, patient care, inefficient support processes and undefined roles and responsibilities. When Level 1 incidents, such as, password resets are filtered through overburdened and costly application experts; project work and critical incident resolution, suffer. Hospitals choosing to be proactive and outsource support benefit from a team of experts working after hours, tracking incident resolutions, identifying areas of improvement and providing minimal disruption to end users, thus increasing overall satisfaction. Outsourcing support continually returns on investment by allowing internal IT departments the time, and resources to focus on key projects. Ultimately impacting the hospital’s bottom line, which is to provide positive patient outcomes.
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