Realizing the Opportunities for a Clinical Service Desk

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By Chris Wickersham | Sep 29, 2023

3 minute read EHR/EMR| Blog| IT Help Desk

Clinical service desks that employ understanding of clinical workflows and issue urgency are the way of the future for healthcare IT. Sound service desk practices and technological know-how are the foundation and adding clinical context can improve your service desk approach with benefits ranging from agent engagement to cost savings. Read more about increasing physician and clinical team satisfaction by adding clinical context to HIT service desks in our recent blog: The Next Big Thing for Healthcare IT Service Desks – Support with Clinical Context.

Building a Clinical Service Desk: A Phase by Phase Overview 

If you’re ready to get started transforming your traditional service desk into a clinical service desk, address the considerations for each of the phases outlined below. Contact us here at CereCore if we can help you think through the specifics. 

Phase 1: Know your starting point with the end in mind.  

Service desk teams must determine their starting point and then build on what they have to realize the promise of a clinical service desk. At CereCore, we provided our analysts with in-depth EHR training at the user and clinical analyst level to facilitate an effective clinical solution. The phases that followed included creating a baseline with through reporting, devising a knowledge management approach, determining access management details, and communicating progress.  

Phase 2: Create a Baseline through Effective Reporting 

Foundational to a successful clinical service desk is consistent operations and analytics derived from reporting on issue tracking, representative capacity, time to resolution, and more. Sound reporting tools – and consistent data input – helps prove the success of a clinical service desk and identifies the areas for improvement.  

Phase 3: Knowledge Management 

Once a baseline has been established within an organization, it is important to perform incident analysis to understand the issues and problems that clinicians are reporting to the Service Desk. A strong working relationship between the Service Desk and the application teams allows for effective knowledge-sharing to better equip the Service Desk to understand clinical workflows.  

For example, if a high percentage of incidents are being escalated for issues related to patient movement such as admissions, transfers, and discharges, it makes sense to provide the Service Desk with organization-specific policy and procedures that help drive that functionality within the hospital. This empowers our analysts to provide our agents effective education based on those scenarios.  

Phase 4: Access Management 

The goal is to maximize efficiency and effectiveness of the Service Desk with the existing access controls in place. By design, our agents are granted very limited back-end access to the EHRs we support. Utilizing incident analytics, we identify high-volume incidents that require additional access for resolution and work with our partner hospitals’ Level 2 clinical teams to provision appropriate access, understand process and governance, and create service-specific knowledge articles for faster resolutions.  

An example within Epic is provisioning Cash Drawer access allowing employees to take payments at clinics. 

Phase 5: Focus and Communication 

It is important to measure the success of the improvements put in place to ensure that the organization understands the improvements that are happening. Sharing results across the organization provides a transparent view of progress which promotes a culture of shift-left and creates a level of confidence in the Service Desk that is often not seen across an organization.  

What’s next 

To realize a clinical service desk in your organization, begin with budgeting a significant investment in Clinical System Certification Training for your service desk agents or consider partnering with a service desk organization like CereCore. Our heritage is rooted in hospital operations, and we have worked for almost two years to develop a clinical service desk with the necessary expertise for Epic and MEDITECH support. At the same time, we’re building on our knowledge for Cerner.  

The right combination of EHR, clinical and technical knowledge combined with the capabilities of your local team could go far towards a clinical service desk strategy for your organization that delivers not just support, but support with clinical context. 

Starting my career has a service desk analyst, I have seen firsthand the struggles and frustrations that clinicians have when interacting with IT support organizations but have also experienced the personal pride of providing assistance and relief to a frustrated ER clinician at the end of a long shift. Traditionally, information technology was seen as a barrier to providing patient care. Through effective IT solutions, among those the Clinical Service Desk, we are flipping the paradigm with an end-goal of being viewed as an enabler of patient care. 

About the Author:
Chris Wickersham

Sr. Director, Customer Support, CereCore

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