Experienced service desk agents with exemplary customer service skills and expertise in clinical workflows are essential to delivering excellent IT support for healthcare providers. But such agents can be difficult to recruit and retain due to scarcity.
Agents typically work desks for only three or four years before moving to other IT support positions, either within their current organization or with another healthcare provider, says Kevin Probst, vice president, end-user support services at The HCI Group. Whenever an agent leaves, they take their knowledge with them, which can make it difficult for their former service desk to maintain quality support.
In this blog post, Kevin Probst outlines how a well-structured career ladder, fair pay, and advancement opportunities are at the heart of a world-class Healthcare IT support model.
1. Create a culture of care and compassion
Onboarding a new agent and bringing them up to the level of the former agent could take months or years—and IT users could struggle in the meantime. If IT support weakens, the whole healthcare organization could be impacted.
Research has shown that insufficient specialized technical support for clinicians and other EHR users can cause problems like physician burnout, reduced user adoption, and poor patient care. However, clinical help desks can improve care, increase adoption, and contain costs by providing a helping hand for clinicians.
“A positive customer experience can increase the return on investment in an EHR system, especially when you work with nurses and physicians,” Probst says. HCI trains all of its EHR support agents so that they are prepared to help others and prosper in their careers while doing so.
“When agents love their jobs and feel as if their work is appreciated, their satisfaction is apparent in their voices and their compassion in their customer service equals a care provider's compassion for their patients. Such agents also tend to be long-time employees, which reduces turnover and increases organizational knowledge, thereby ensuring consistency in the quality of our support services,” Probst says.
2. Provide additional Healthcare IT training
Agents develop a broad knowledge base by completing hundreds of hours of vendor-specific training across the most commonly used modules for major EHR systems. They also learn best practices in support and numerous customer-service philosophies.
“We invest in our employees to ensure that the work they do is meaningful and that they are happy with their work/life balance,” Probst says.
HCI’s service desk support group trains agents in areas like outpatient and inpatient workflows, HIPAA security, and specialty practices so that they can understand the delivery of healthcare better and respond to support requests accordingly. Agents know that they should help a surgeon preparing for an operation or a nurse treating a patient before they assist an employee registering a patient at a clinic, for example. And they know to help the end-user based on their situation.
3. Establish a structured career ladder
HCI also invests in its agents so that they will stay on a service desk for more than three or four years before becoming an analyst, engineer, supervisor, or another type of support professional. “A structured career ladder gives them room to grow within the service desk and prepares them for the next stage of their career,” Probst says.
“To make sure we don’t lose their knowledge, we invest in our employees so that when they are ready to move on, they stay within our organization. Even though that employee may change roles two or three times over the course of their career, we’ve given them a full career path within our organization,” Probst says.
HCI also does market studies regularly to guarantee competitive wages and offers mentoring and growth sessions with leaders so that IT support professionals will stay, including on the service desk. “If we do our job well as a company, service desk agents will remain with the team longer because they enjoy the environment they work in and know that they will always have a path upwards,” Probst says.
The longer a service desk agent stays, the more valuable they become. And quickly replacing them with an equally skilled and experienced agent will ensure that their organization continues to provide high-quality healthcare IT support.
The HCI Group’s Support Service provides a customized delivery model that focuses on reducing the cost of healthcare IT and strengthening the healthcare IT support Model. Learn more online or contact us for more information.