Ask any doctor and they will tell you that one of the biggest challenges we face as a society is our love of fast food. We want what we want and want it now. Funny thing is, if you asked that same doctor how long it took to get setup with a computer and access to systems when they joined the health system you will likely get an earful. When it comes to consuming IT services, we’re all fast food junkies and waiting doesn’t improve our satisfaction.
In this blog I’d like to talk about ways IT services can be delivered in a way that satisfies the hunger.
In my role as a consultant providing services to healthcare clients, I often have to have access to client applications and many times that requires using a client provided laptop as well. I’ve learned through painful experience that if I need it any time soon, I should have asked for it weeks ago. In fact, one project that required access to some old EMR applications had a TWO MONTH lead time for getting a login. When I asked what do they do if it were a clinician they just hired, they said “we get yelled at a lot.”
“There has to be a better way” you might say. And there is. What if you could simply go to an internal website, click a button that says something like “Add New Resource.” Clicking the button asks you a few simple questions like the resource name, what kind of user they will be and what department they will work in, start date and so forth. After you submit, a desktop or laptop magically appears that has all the software they need installed and user accounts we already setup.
In my previous post, I talked about just getting started, being an IT Hero, not a superhero, and creating service portals and service catalogs. The “nirvana” outlined is an example of this idea. It starts with a well-defined service. In this case, it is a desktop service. Not only is it a desktop service, it is a desktop for a specific kind of user. For example, a cardiologist. The service definition includes some key bits of information such as the desktops needs:
- A browser that is compatible with your EMR hyperspace
- A copy of the cardiology RIS and PACS application client software
- Email client setup with a user account
- User accounts created for the associated applications and a network login
Of course, there is more to this scenario than the end user device itself. The addition of a new user triggers:
- Creating requests for user accounts
- Routing requests to approvers
- Nagging approvers for approval
- Nagging the approver’s manager about a late approval
- Billing the appropriate department budget for the device and the fractional consumption of resources for the use of the EMR, PACS, RIS and so forth.
In a well-defined service, these elements are detailed. They are detailed for a cardiologist and they are detailed for a billing office user and they are different for each one.
Is that enough? Of course not. The service definition needs to be added to the list of other services IT provides called a service catalog. The catalog contains all the service definitions for all the services IT provides. Each service in the catalog also has a service implementation. In the case of our cardiologist desktop, the service definition is going to be a standard virtual machine image that is created from a template. A request for the service triggers automated processes that creates the image and also initiates workflows for creating the needed application and network accounts. The workflows send emails with links to the approvers to approve the new accounts. And it sends it again if needed and copies a manager if it doesn’t get completed fast enough.
The concept that ties it all together is the self-service portal. This is where the hiring manager can see that there is such a thing as a cardiologist desktop and can request a new one for the newly hired doctor. It also shows the user how much the service will cost and gathers the information needed to create the service request.
The key enablers to being able to do this are:
- Modern infrastructure that supports virtualization and automation
- Implementation of automation, both at the infrastructure and process workflow levels
- Transformation to use defined services that are manifest in a self-service portal
Chances are you already have some of the pieces in place. For example, a recent tech refresh may have introduced infrastructure that supports automation, whether that was the reason for the purchase or not. Likewise, you might have deployed a help desk ticketing solution that has portal features you haven’t used yet. Either way, start taking a look at how to create the value chain of Modernize, Automate and Transform. If you do, you’ll be the IT Hero your company needs you to be. If you don’t they will find another way to get services that we call “Shadow IT.” More on that in another blog post.