Jun 29 2020

How IT Service Management Tools Are Assisting in Healthcare

Customizable to the needs of each organization, these modern solutions can ensure business continuity during the pandemic.

Recruiting and keeping IT talent is a challenge in the healthcare world, which often loses workers to other highly competitive industries. Employing top talent is necessary to keep healthcare organizations running effectively and efficiently and to maintain a competitive advantage in an industry experiencing major change amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reliance on technology in healthcare is so profound,” Erik Decker, chief information security and privacy officer at University of Chicago Medicine, tells HealthTech. “It’s not possible for us to operate for any sustained period of time on paper.”

With skilled workers in high demand — and unemployment in the field reaching a 20-year low in May 2019 — healthcare is being forced to adapt in order to find a sustainable way forward in maintaining quality IT services.

One solution: modern IT service management tools. This approach can streamline workflows and fill gaps in IT in healthcare while saving healthcare systems time and money.

What Is IT Service Management?

IT service management includes the actions performed by an organization to design, deliver, implement and control its IT services for end users. ITSM takes a proactive approach to IT, focusing more heavily on the end-user’s needs as opposed to those of IT systems and emphasizing continuous improvement. 

Without good ITSM, an organization’s efficiency and productivity can fall by the wayside — which is where modern, software-based tools like ServiceNow can come in handy. These solutions can help an organization maintain primary IT functions, such as a service desk, while simultaneously taking a broader view to its IT processes.

“You must consider the various dependencies and links across ITSM and IT processes, even if there is no pressing need to do so,” Mike Roberts, marketing manager for CDW, writes in a recent blog post. “Such big-picture thinking will be invaluable for future enhancements or should an unforeseen problem arise.”

Traditional Uses of ITSM in Healthcare

From streamlining existing processes to mitigating risk, quality ITSM in healthcare can help organizations regain control over IT costs while improving patient care. Take Novant Health, for example.

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based healthcare system runs its IT management platform on top of ServiceNow. Using the Software as a Service-based tools as its service-delivery platform, the organization set out to reduce the amount of human error involved with IT and break down the silos impeding quality customer service for its staff and clinicians. 

Novant’s main goal: Elevate the level of service that the health system could provide via the help desk wherever possible and drive quicker resolutions.

“We try to be as proactive as we possibly can in how we service our infrastructure within our facilities,” says James Kluttz, vice president and CTO for Novant, “whether it be a physician practice, a corporate facility or an acute care facility.”

In the past year, Novant has enhanced its model significantly. The organization previously ran a telephonic approach, where staffers were required to call in, talk to an agent and report their incidents. Now, the company has been able to introduce chat capabilities to eliminate hold times for end users, allowing them to spend more time with patients and perform their jobs in the most effective way possible. 

The healthcare system also recently implemented ServiceNow’s machine learning solution, Predictive Intelligence. When incidents are recorded and come into the system, the solution runs a predictive analysis of where each issue needs to be routed to. IT staffers also triage the incidents in order to give end users three options for resolving the issue on their own.

“We’ve tried to make it much more self-service using the Predictive Intelligence technology,” says Kluttz, “because it looks back at historical trends within ServiceNow and allows us to do predictive resolution to a lot of those types of issues.”

READ MORE: Service desk solutions are helping provider IT teams manage day-to-day headaches.

How ITSM Tools Are Helping During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Kluttz notes that his organization was prepared for the massive shift to remote work prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. With the solutions Novant had in place, the health system could easily send its nonessential staff home to work — and could quickly scale to meet the demand for more users.

“When we think about our remote workforce, we already had the architectural capabilities to surge to a much higher level of remote work,” says Kluttz. “It's very difficult to scale people, but I can scale a tool — and that's what we've always tried to work toward. Our mantra is, ‘Let's put the software solutions and technology solutions in place that, regardless of what might come our way, we can easily scale up to meet the demand.’”

That mindset, along with the creation of educational documents, helped to set the organization up for early success. 

Because the documentation was designed for end users who weren’t used to working from home, Kluttz thinks the effort produced fewer service tickets than expected.

“We did have a little bit of an uptick in service tickets,” says Kluttz, “but it was more educational calls than it was anything else. So, while we did have an uptick, it was not like a doubling of incidents that came into our service desk.”

Largely, in leveraging modern ITSM solutions, Novant Health and other healthcare organizations are preparing for whatever might come their way. By streamlining operations, these solutions help to provide a more frictionless experience for end users — and, at the same time, continually drive efficiencies within the organization itself.

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