IT departments within hospitals are often stretched to their limits, especially when dealing with a new Electronic Health Records (EHR) implementation. The IT staff is focused on learning the EHR, implementing the new solution, and optimizing the solution after the launch in an attempt to perform improvements to the system. Additionally, by this point, most hospitals also require their IT staff to begin the onerous task of decommissioning existing legacy systems.
The Clinical Service Desk: An Invaluable Asset after Go-Live
Balancing the time of the IT help desk with the need to continue to provide EHR support to clinicians after the Go-live launch is a challenge that have led many hospitals to incorporate an EHR Clinical Service Desk (ECSD) component. ECSDs enable hospitals to provide EHR support and expertise to ensure access of patient records across all levels of the hospital system to drive the adoption of a new EHR.
ECSDs provide countless benefits to hospitals. However, the three main benefits during the EHR launch that ECSDs provide are as follows:
1. Workforce Efficiency
Without an ECSD, a hospital help desk can expect hundreds of calls per day, especially during the initial period immediately after go-live. With an ECSD, all of those calls would bypass the internal help desk. For the period the ECSD is employed, the hospital can save time and money on the need to increase help desk staff to support the post Go-Live influx of help calls. And they can save revenue by reallocating resources to work on the improvement of operational efficiencies and training.
2. Saving on Training
Without an ECSD, a hospital must allocate more resources and costs to training the additional, temporary help desk staff they must hire to scale up for the post Go-live EHR launch. With an ECSD, vendors can often embed training into the methodology and partner with the current call center agents on the help desk. By doing so, the internal help desk agents can listen in on calls and learn as the post-implementation progresses.
Without an ECSD, level 2 (L2) consultants can quickly become stretched by the need to field so many new tickets while helping to manage the EHR launch. With an ECSD, fewer tickets go to level two because easier answers are provided by the main help desk and subsequent ECSD. A decrease of 50 to 60 percent is possible with this advanced work team. With an ECSD, for the three to six months when it is employed, the L2 experts will have the bandwidth they need to help solve very complex problems.
EHR planning typically begins 18 to 24 months before the launch. But in the ensuing months, many things can change. For example, hospitals might add an ambulatory clinic, shut down a wing, or sometimes even acquire a new organization. Therefore, after the Go-Live it is common for hospitals to either double or triple their L2 staffs, or employ temporary consultants at $120 to $160 per hour to complete optimization efforts. With an ECSD, however, the hospital now has the resource availability in the L2 department, which is comprised of the same people who did the implementation work in the first place, and who know the EHR system better than anyone else at the hospital.IT departments within hospitals are often stretched to their limits, but with the support of an ECSD, hospital CIOs can rest easy knowing that their IT staff and clinicians will have the support they need to succeed and adopt a new EHR solution.