Top of Mind Questions: Managed Services, Staffing, and Technology Investments

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By Joel St. Francis | Feb 17, 2023

4 minute read Technology| Blog| IT Staffing| IT Advisory

Topics of concern for many in the healthcare IT industry revolve around continuing to achieve operational efficiencies and technology innovation even when budgets and staffing pressures just won’t let up. Recently, we hosted a webinar with Becker’s Hospital Review and shared our experience working with clients to manage their day-to-day operations and address staffing shortages through partial IT outsourcing and flexible managed service staffing models.  

Play button blog   Watch the webinar: Using Metrics to Drive Healthcare IT Collaboration

Check out the detailed recap from Becker’s Health IT along with these key highlights from the webinar:

  • We shared real-world examples of how you can use metrics to inform IT decision making, improve operations and build relationships within your C-suite. 
  • We shared insights from a survey we sponsored and conducted with the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA). A key finding: 

42% of CFOs say they need CIOs to provide more information about prioritizing major IT initiatives, assessing the risks of IT initiatives, and aligning IT to business goals. 

This response begs the question: What if you had more time to focus on strategic projects and build relationships with your C-suite colleagues and clinical stakeholders instead of managing day-to-day operations like the service desk?  

  • We talked about today’s workforce, the challenges with traditional outsourcing, and how we are seeing a new type of outsourcing emerge as we work with clients in a shared services alliance model. 

Finally, we opened the mics and answered questions from the audience. Top questions from the audience focused on three areas: using metrics to make decisions, solving staffing shortages, deciding if an alliance model is a good fit. 

Webinar Q&A Recap 

Take a deep dive into these answers. 

Have you seen metrics drive IT infrastructure decisions in an organization? If so, can you provide an example of the type of metrics and infrastructure changes or updates that were made? 

When you start getting numerous points of failure or system downtimes because you are running on aged infrastructure, metrics can help you justify the need for a technical refresh. To help inform your decision of when and to what extent you should consider a technical refresh, look at metrics like these: 

  • Downtime frequency  
  • Downtime length 
  • Outage ROI 
  • Length of time to complete lifecycle tasks like patching 

Can you detect a pattern in issues or continual points of failure? Is there a certain storage array that seems to be causing issues? If you are producing the right metrics, they should help you assess the health of your infrastructure and how to improve it.  

For example, the issue could be something simple like a certificate has expired and people are unable to access a system. Dig a little deeper and you may discover that investing in a tool to help drive organizational change and maturity will be worth it when you look at the ROI of the investment. 

Weigh the pros and cons of funding for technology and infrastructure changes in light of the cost that unplanned or extended IT outages can have on healthcare operations.  

Measuring ROI of downtime and its impact on care teams may be one of the most significant ways you can understand the impact of technology investment – both the lack of investment and the justification to invest in tools and infrastructure. Share those metrics with other C-suite leaders so that everyone has visibility into how these investment decisions can impact clinician workflow and even patient care. 

Capital planning for a tech refresh every five years can be another trigger so that you regularly review and evaluate the health of your infrastructure. Then, metrics can help you drive activity and decide whether you need to make those technology changes or not. 

Can you tell us more how managed service providers (MSPs) are supporting staffing challenges? 

Our team members are dedicated to our mission of supporting clinical teams and healthcare providers by providing a wide network of skilled and technical resources that can help with operations to project work. Often our clients don’t need a full-time resource for their project or the resource is too expensive. Managed services can help with both of those challenges. When a resource is shared it gives more people access to a wider pool of talent and at scale which helps drive down the cost.  

For example, ServiceNow is a powerful software as a service (SaaS) solution workflow tool but finding skilled resources to help implement and use it within a healthcare organization can be very difficult. We helped a client by creating a package of hours to help them every month with their projects. This means they don’t need to have a full-time resource or employ as many skillsets on their team, because we have the architects and developers they need. In addition, they don’t have to recruit each of these people. Instead, they reach out to us and explain what they are trying to accomplish.  

Since the pandemic we have operated as a remote workplace and taken advantage of collaboration tools and technologies to enable employees to maintain productivity standards while 100% remote. Today, remote work is an attractive hiring benefit, and our organization is prepared to work with clients and employees worldwide.  

Plus, we have continuous education programs for our workforce so that we are continually developing skills and career paths for team members from the service desk to grow into a network technician and on to other roles within the organization. There’s value in partnering with an MSP that has talent development programs because you will have access to a wider range of knowledge and expertise. 

What are the pros and cons of a flexible resourcing model like the Shared Services Alliance model? 

The pros of a shared services alliance model are that it gives you greater flexibility, more resource scalability, and mutual incentives to collaborate because you both are sharing the risk for success. In the model, CereCore will manage all the resources and the client will be able to take advantage of our ability to attract top talent.  

Employees in the client organization are rebadged as CereCore employees and that opens up professional development and mobility options for them, or we may offer other benefits that the client may not be able to offer. The flexible model enables the client to retain the types of work that they are most adept at. However, if a client needs to change in the future and they need to ramp up clinical informatics knowledge on their side, then the shared services alliance model gives them the flexibility to do that. This also allows our clients to redirect their employees, assign them to other key strategic initiatives and groom them for improved career opportunities. 

The cons of a shared services alliance model are it may take time to realize the cost savings and the human side to partnerships will require proper diligence. The model will start out as cost neutral and over time will aim to deliver efficiencies that lead to cost reduction and improved productivity.  

Bottom line 

The looming question in the minds of many healthcare IT leaders today is one that was not specifically asked in the webinar.  

How do you get focus back in your day? As leaders and for your IT teams? 

One answer could be to look no further and partner with CereCore. Compare managed services and contingent staffing – we've outlined the pros and cons in this decision guide. Explore how a new flexible staffing model could help your healthcare organization find the resources you need and get the projects done at the right pace and cost. 

About the Author:
Joel St. Francis

Vice President, Client Outsource Services, CereCore

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