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Throwback Thursday: Agile Healthcare IT Organizations Can Tackle ITSM and ITIL

 
Originally posted on November 18, 2011

 


Organizations today are seeking IT Service Management tools which allow the organization to rapidly modify processes without the need for time consuming and expensive reprogramming of their ITSM platform. Departments tasked with delivering IT services have to be agile, no matter the industry. While technology changes often drive changes in IT processes, requirements also change. These can be driven by regulatory change, a need to increase efficiency within the department, or organization as a whole. Taking that a step further, ITIL aligned entities (departments or organizations) which embrace Continuous Service Improvement will regularly modify processes to ensure the best possible use of existing people, processes, and tools.

Now, if you are part of a department delivering IT services in the Healthcare industry, you know you have to be even more agile. While other IT departments may be able to shoot from the hip when it comes to processes, those providing IT services in Healthcare must accommodate regularly changing regulations and laws, mandates from government on the use of technology such as Electronic Medical Records, and the delivery of high availability services to users whose lives really do depend on these services. In every way, Healthcare IT is challenged to deliver services which have constantly changing requirements. The best way to address those requirements is to have tools, as we mentioned, which can change quickly to meet these challenges.

The problem many IT departments have today, be they in Healthcare or other industries, is that the IT Service Management tools they have in place are built on legacy platforms. These tools, while often very robust, are typically inflexible and require actual reprogramming to make even simple changes to forms, let alone complex changes to workflows and process automation. In other words, these legacy tools are not agile; these tools cannot be quickly adapted to changing organizational requirements.

 

 

 


Even worse, legacy tools also happen to be very expensive to both purchase and maintain. Almost all organizations that have these systems in place do not have programming experience on staff and typically rely on outside consultants to make changes to the IT Service Management environment. In many cases, we find that offerings from legacy vendors are often built as separate products lacking the necessary, out-of–the-box integration between products. This means that customers who wish to add, say, Change Management to their existing Incident Management platform, will have to pay for integration of the two tools on top of the product purchase. Couple these legacy platforms with emerging Healthcare initiatives for Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and IT organizations have a perfect storm of challenges when trying to successfully implement and support EMR.

If only it stopped there though. Not only do Healthcare IT teams have to implement EMR platforms, but these teams also have to plan customizations of their support tools to ensure secure and highly available delivery of EMR services to their organization. Thus, many Healthcare organizations have found that deploying an EMR system which meets HIPAA requirements is a time consuming and costly process.

If the idea that Healthcare IT providers have it rough hasn’t quite sunk in, consider the time and costs involved with changing a legacy system’s forms to accommodate an EMR application launch within a hospital. First, the team must gather and document requirements to determine what workflows need to be created or modified. Next they’ll have to tackle how forms need to be customized in order to collect new information. While they are at it, they must also know how the underlying database needs to be constructed to accommodate new lists of systems and incident types. After all that they will begin to investigate how individuals or teams need to be engaged for EMR issues. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. The team will also need to plan what Service Level Agreements need to be applied to EMR incidents, how escalations occur, and what automations need to be in place to handle EMR related tickets. Assuming the organization uses a Change Management process in additional to Incident Management, a similar set of requirements will need to be developed for the Change Management tool or module. Once these requirements are developed, most likely a programmer or consultant will need to be engaged to make the changes within the legacy ticketing system(s).

Even if they did their due diligence, these platform changes will likely require coding, which can take weeks or months to complete. Once the changes are made, the system must be tested to ensure the changes meet the requirements before the system goes in to production. The testing and subsequent additional changes will again take weeks or months of time to complete and if using an outside consultant, that time equals a direct monetary cost.

You should be thinking to yourself, “Shouldn’t the ITSM tool which is used to define support and service delivery be easy to deploy, customize, and use and allow IT to focus service delivery of services? Are there ITSM platforms available, based on best practice frameworks such as ITIL, which are easy to use, allow staff users to focus on service delivery, and are easy to administrate and effortless to customize without programming?”

The answer is yes. There are modern ITSM tools available, such as ChangeGear, which change the game with regard to ease of deployment, customization, and use. . What is often absent in legacy systems, Modern ITSM platforms natively integrate their modules in to a unified whole, allowing users to link processes without customization. A common feature of these products is the ease in which forms, automations, and workflows can be customized, without programming, to meet organizational needs for agility. Better yet, the new generation of ITSM platforms provide organizations with out of the box ITIL based best practice orientated tools to manage processes such as Incident Management, Problem Management and Change Management modules as well as a Configuration Management Database - all with a modern Service Catalog front end.

Our final suggestion - when looking at your IT needs, in any industry, it is important to ask the question- “Is the tool Agile?” Can the tool rapidly adapt to the organization need for process changes. As the adage goes - “The only constant is change.” Nowhere is this statement truer than in IT and especially Healthcare IT. Tools such as SunView’s ChangeGear product are agile and can adapt as your organization changes quickly and without additional cost.

 

 

 

 

 

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