The Conundrum of Healthcare IT Support: Can Technology Help?


by Roy Atkinson
April 19, 2017

Recently, I had a long conversation with an HDI member (I’ll call him “Max”) who is an IT support manager at a regional medical center. He seemed a bit at wit’s end about how to move forward. “The clinical staff—including doctors, nurses, and other caregivers—don’t call us or contact us,” he told me. “They simply don’t have the time to spend trying to solve a problem with their iPad or WOW (workstation on wheels). The doctors need to see one patient every fifteen minutes, and they can’t spend any time working with us to solve a problem.” And yet, he continued, the support budget has gotten smaller and smaller.

“What the doctors really want is support ‘at the elbow’—someone who is right there to swap out a tablet or reboot a system. We simply can’t afford that kind of coverage.”

The conversation started after I gave a presentation about some things that are coming in support, including technology-assisted self service, which I call Tier/Level 0.5.

“These technologies have enormous potential to help you,” I told Max.

Imagine a physician with a small, voice-activated device—kept in a lab coat pocket or worn on a sleeve—that is ready to find answers to questions, and perhaps even fix errors. Think of an Echo Dot or a Siri-enabled device tied into the ITSM system. The physician actually could have support “at the elbow” without the immense expense of tripling or quadrupling support staff.

“Computer: Why can’t I sign in to my iPad?”

“Dr. Goodpatient, the sign-on system was momentarily offline but is back now; please try again,” the widget could answer in a matter of milliseconds. No dialing, no queue, no effort beyond asking the question.

The possibilities are virtually endless (pun intended). Imagine that Dr. Goodpatient’s device connects not only to the ITSM system, but also to a cognitive computer with enormous analytic capabilities as well. (Here’s a video of a doctor discussing cognitive computing in medicine.)

Imagine that device connects not only to the ITSM system, but also to a cognitive computer.
Tweet: Imagine that device connects not only to the #ITSM system, but also to a cognitive computer. @HDI_Analyst @ThinkHDI

We are on the threshold of an era when we can take advantage of advanced technologies to assist us and, more importantly, those we support. It won’t be happening tomorrow or next week, but this is coming, and we need to be thinking about ways we can make the best use of these powerful tools.

In the world of healthcare, every second counts, and many incidents or requests are critically important. The old adage says, A fool with tool is still a fool. We may be approaching a time when the tool can help eliminate foolishness, or at least minimize it, as we become able to provide support in better ways than we ever have.


Roy AtkinsonRoy Atkinson is HDI's senior writer/analyst, acting as in-house subject matter expert and chief writer for SupportWorld articles and white papers. In addition to being a member of the HDI International Certification Standards Committee and the HDI Desktop Support Advisory Board, Roy is a popular speaker at HDI conferences and is well known to HDI local chapter audiences. His background is in both service desk and desktop support as well as small-business consulting. Roy is highly rated on social media, especially on the topics of IT service management and customer service. He is a cohost of the very popular #custserv (customer service) chat on Twitter, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on December 9, 2014. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @HDI_Analyst and @RoyAtkinson.


Tag(s): supportworld, technology, self-service tools, self-service, technical support, trends

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