Penn Medicine leverages ­service management ­technology to track upward of 30,000 contacts monthly, says Senior Vice President and CIO Michael Restuccia.

Apr 30 2019

Service Desk Solutions Help Provider IT Teams Manage Day-to-Day Headaches

Effectiveness hinges on managers finding the right mix of people, processes and solutions.

Michael Restuccia, senior vice president and CIO at Penn Medicine, knows that his front-line workers help shape the image of his entire department. In fact, he estimates that clinicians and office staff base 90 percent of their opinions about an IT shop on their interactions with the service desk and desktop and clinical engineering support teams.

It’s no surprise, then, that he puts an emphasis on strong service management.

“In today’s healthcare environment, collaboration is more important than ever,” Restuccia says. “If we can’t solve users’ problems and respond to tickets professionally, people aren’t going to trust us to help them implement bigger solutions.”

Penn Medicine uses the Microsoft System Center Service Manager ticket management system to track 30,000-plus contacts per month, which enables its service desk to resolve roughly 64 percent of all tickets on the first contact and, when necessary, submit and track inquiries. Restuccia notes, however, that tech solutions represent only one aspect of service management.

It’s common for IT staff to cite the importance of people and processes, but it’s especially true in service management, where employees provide face-to-face service and cumbersome processes can grind business and care delivery to a halt.

“The technical skills can be taught,” says Shannon Kalvar, research manager for IT service management and client virtualization at IDC. “But that empathy and that willingness to challenge existing processes to do the right thing and get the clinician working with the patient as quickly as possible, that’s hard to teach.”

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Providers Improve Services with Automation and Intuition

San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare is in the midst of switching to Ivanti Service Manager. Aaron Ortiz, manager of enterprise device architecture for the organization, says the Ivanti solution was attractive because it allows for automation based on IT infrastructure library standards.

“We can set rules in place to say, ‘After 20 calls of this type, automatically escalate to an incident,’” Ortiz says. “Those processes are all manual at this point. Everything is delayed. A human has to determine that there’s a larger pattern, and that decision is hard to put on the shoulders of one person.”

The new system is also more intuitive than the organization’s previous solution, Ortiz says.

“It’s a lot more streamlined. If you’re trying to work in a system and you have no idea where you need to go, it’s going to be harder to get the job done.”

Similarly, two years ago, AdventHealth in Altamonte Springs, Fla., switched to ServiceNow. James Muir, director of IT service management, calls ServiceNow user friendly and flexible, allowing for tasks such as adjusting ticket types on the fly.

“Before, we did not have a good mechanism to change tickets or carry over data,” Muir says. “Now we have that ability. If a help ticket walks through the door and it turns out it’s really a larger incident, it’s easy to change it to the right kind of workflow.”


To Find the Best Fit, Determine Business Needs

Muir advises IT leaders to select a ­service management solution based on the processes they want to implement rather than the other way around. “The real key is defining your processes and your business needs, then mapping those to the tool,” he says.

“It’s process first.”

One motivation for switching to ServiceNow, Muir says, was that it allows the organization to bring more consistency to its change management processes — the steps employees need to take when making infrastructure updates. “Before, there were different workflows for different changes, and it wasn’t all done in a consistent way,” he says. “We consolidated the process so that everyone now has to get certain approvals and take the same testing steps. The reason for that consistency is so we understand the risk to the systems, make sure we’re in regulatory compliance and protect production systems as much as possible.” As Sharp transitions to Ivanti, officials are working to standardize processes as much as possible.

Standardization is one of the biggest challenges in IT,” Ortiz says. “It’s hard to standardize when end users want their way and want their specific requests to happen in a certain order, with a certain look and a certain feel. We have to try to accommodate that, but how do we also make sure when we support a system that we’re not wasting hours and hours of manpower on something that was customized to just one specific requester?”

To that end, IT leaders at Sharp are working to make sure new processes are based on service delivery objectives rather than individual users’ desires to do things a certain way.

“The best practice is to try to understand the value and what we’re trying to provide,” Ortiz says. “You really have to understand what is needed by the customer versus what is wanted.”

Source: Penn Medicine

Start with Good People

At Penn Medicine, Restuccia says that good service management starts with good people. While some organizations treat the service desk as a low-level entry point that leads to more senior IT jobs, Restuccia considers service management its own career path.

“You have to put seasoned, experienced, knowledgeable personnel on the front line,” he says. “The key is, at the very beginning, finding individuals who are service-oriented, who feel the importance of being on the front line of a healthcare organization, and then giving them opportunities to progress in their careers.”

Restuccia tries to optimize service management processes by sending technicians out to conduct formal and informal training with clinicians and office workers — teaching basic troubleshooting techniques before they’re even needed.

“It’s easy to look at your list of submitted tickets and determine what the needs are,” he says. “It might be printers jamming, it might be teaching a particular department how to use a system a little better. No one wants to call the service desk. The more power and smarts we can put in their hands, the better.”

Colin Lenton

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