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The Healthcare Help Desk Steps Up Its Game

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, April 25, 2013

Eckes says the setup fees for CareTech's clinical IT help desk were recovered within three months, and that the system has been saving money for Cancer Centers of America ever since. "They were taking on more calls and solving more issues in terms of first-call resolution, versus my internal team having to step in and address those same calls."

At Englewood (N.J.) Hospital and Medical Center, the clinical IT service desk arrived as part of a service desk improvement initiative that saw the establishment of the hospital's first service-level agreements (SLAs), says Ron Fuschillo, CIO of Englewood Hospital, an affiliate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine that is licensed for 550 beds and operates 328 beds.

Prior to the improvements, "about 60% of our calls would end up either in voice mail or some type of a queue, or people would just hang up, and that was due to the staffing ratio," Fuschillo says.

Service desks typically are organized in three tiers, Fuschillo says. Tier 1 is where calls get resolved by the service desk itself. Tier 2 represents calls that need to be resolved by more experienced analysts in a subsequent call. Tier 3 is for problems that require involvement by the EHR vendor.

Resolving calls in higher tiers is more costly, Fuschillo says. The challenge of bringing a clinical service desk online is to demonstrate to leadership that calls are being resolved at a lower tier.

To help implement the service desk, Englewood Hospital retained an outside consulting company, which created organizationwide SLAs on 300 different items and helped the hospital select the actual provider of service desk services, weighing the capability of in-house staff to deliver these services, as well as issuing an RFP for an IT service desk that garnered 12 responses from service desk service providers.

From those dozen responses, Englewood Hospital narrowed the competition to four or five vendors. "We brought them in for four hours each to present what they had to offer, went through a very managed process with questionnaires from all the senior-level managers as well as directors who sat through those presentations to help us select the right service desk company, and we narrowed it down to CareTech, and that started the contract negotiations," Fuschillo says.

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