The Top Ten Symptoms of a Very Sick Service Desk

If your hospital is suffering from at least two of the following pain points — because of IT service desk (help desk) issues — it’s time to review your IT support practices, procedures, service levels, and overall user satisfaction. These issues are not just painful; they can dangerously threaten the quality of your patients’ healthcare. Physicians and other clinical staff cannot afford the operational risks of poor IT service desk support.

Outstanding service to users should be a given — provided by a qualified, high-achieving, dedicated service desk group. Unfortunately, many hospital IT departments spread service too thinly across their staffs, often working on so many major initiatives that user support suffers. In healthcare, service is everything, whether it’s patient care or supporting the physicians and clinicians who provide it. Consider these common symptoms of a service support system that may be harming as much as it is helping. Or worse. Maybe it’s time to renovate your service desk.

  1. Your analysts are spending more and more time resolving users’ calls.
    This is not only costly but perhaps worse, takes analysts away from critical projects. Your service desk should be handling most requests for support.
  2. You have recurring IT problems that never seem to go away.
    This situation is common, usually because no one is capturing the big picture of calls that represent larger issues or trends, or because the issues are poorly handled when users call.
  3. Your physicians are dissatisfied with your clinical systems.
    New EHRs and other systems have increased physician complaints, either because of practical difficulties accessing the system or because of ongoing, unresolved system issues. Your IT department should anticipate a potential increase in service calls whenever a new system is implemented and plan for it.
  4. Night and weekend calls are an increasing drain on your staff.
    Off-hour calls are almost always fielded by analysts, who soon become unhappy analysts and potential turnover candidates. Analysts don’t enjoy getting password reset requests on a Sunday at 2 A.M. Ensuring your users have access to a 24 X 7 service desk can eliminate most of these problems.
  5. Your cost per service desk contact is excessive.
    Many of our customers were spending an exorbitant $20 per call or more before outsourcing to us. (Some thought they were spending a lot less until we helped them gather all the costs.)
  6. You have no idea what your cost per call is.
    Whether you can’t track all of your service tickets, or you simply don’t know your service desk costs, you are likely losing money. Many hospitals do not assess their direct and indirect service desk expenses regularly, which often allows for gradual problematic cost increases.
  7. Users are unhappy – they don’t feel they are getting the help they need.
    Your users’ experience must be diligently measured because dissatisfaction with your service desk is just the tip of the iceberg of dissatisfaction with your systems and your entire IT department. This is most often a result of two factors:

    1. Poor first call resolutions.
    2. Users have long wait times for service, particularly at peak times like the beginning of shifts — which causes work disruption and frustration.
  8. Your service desk staffers continually have to reinvent the wheel in providing solutions.
    Typically, this problem occurs because they haven’t created and continually updated a knowledge base. If they have one, it’s out of date or they don’t use it.
  9. Your key users have IT department “favorites” IT department, to whom they reach for help – instead of the service desk.
    This is a strong signal that users don’t have sufficient respect for your service desk team to use it. Another negative is that issues resolved outside of the service desk system become untracked activity; this distorts your cost per call numbers and makes it more difficult to spot trends.
  10. You have difficulty staffing and keeping your service desk team.
    Difficulty in recruiting, poor training of new hires, lack of ongoing training / mentoring, poor management, inadequately supported peak times in call volume, and high turnover are all part of this problem. The result is inconsistent and even chaotic support and, once again, high costs and dissatisfied users.

Service desk outsourcing has become an increasingly significant and cost-effective option for many hospitals.  Whether you would like a third-party analysis of your service desk, or perhaps discuss our onshore service desk capabilities, please call or write us.

About D’Arcy Guerin Gue

Vice President, Industry Relations

D’Arcy Guerin Gue is a co-founder of Phoenix, with over 25 years of experience in executive leadership, strategic planning, IT services, knowledge leadership, and industry relations —  and a special focus on patient engagement and federal compliance issues.

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