Maintaining the Health of HCA’s Technology
Hospital Corporation of America uses OnPage to Increase IT Uptime
Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is a publicly held, for-profit operator of health care facilities across the United States and the United Kingdom. According to recent filings, HCA employs over 200,000 people and had profits of over $2.89 billion in 2016. A few years ago, however, when their Mid-Atlantic region’s IT operations desk faced problems with on-call confusion, unacceptable downtime for equipment and struggles with ensuring continuity of patient care, they turned to OnPage.
The problem prior to OnPage
Until two years ago, when a physician, nurse or physician assistant had trouble with a piece of healthcare equipment or an administrator couldn’t check in patients for appointments, they would contact HCA’s Help Desk and then wait until they could get in touch with the engineer who could resolve their technology problem. Often the delays were significant. This workflow challenged those who had called in for help because until the technology was fixed, they were unable to continue with a surgery or check in patients for appointments. They were left waiting.
This challenge frequently occurred because the Help Desk relied on an Excel spreadsheet to find out who was on-call at the IT Service Desk and then manually page out to the technician. Yet frequently, the information on the spreadsheets was incorrect. Service Desk managers would frequently update the spreadsheet for their group but fail to notify the help desk.
Additionally, because they were frequently contacting the wrong on-call engineer, it could take up to 30 minutes to find the right systems engineer. In the time until the engineer was contacted, the Help Desk engineers were unable to deal with other incoming calls because they were tied up trying to locate the needed engineer. The Help Desk needed to cut that level of effort down to resolve the most critical problems quickly and speed up the resolution of the other less urgent requests.
The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came when the Help Desk realized they were facing multiple challenges from the legacy on call system. From poor scheduling to challenging escalations to errors with determining the proper on-call engineer, this legacy process caused the Help Desk team numerous issues. They needed to find an alternative solution. As the Help Desk lead noted:
Really, what we’re here for is patient care. The errors in paging meant we had to have a change. It’s unacceptable to impede patient care because we didn’t know who’s on-call. We need people to get back to the bedside as quickly as possible.
Why OnPage has become a must have
For HCA, the beauty of OnPage was that managers could now build their own on-call schedules. When the on-call engineer changed their schedule or went on vacation, their manager didn’t need to inform the Help Desk. The Help Desk could now simply contact the engineer’s group if a system went down that needed attention.
When choosing an alternative to their legacy paging system, the Help Desk chose OnPage over other options because they loved the application and on-call schedules. Today, when a request for the Service Desk comes in, the Help Desk team is able to get a response in 10 minutes or less compared to 30 minutes prior to using OnPage. That change represents a 66% improvement over their legacy process.
By switching to OnPage, the engineers at HCA have recognized the following significant benefits:
- OnPage’s automation eliminated on-call scheduling errors and thus reduced response time
- No need for Help Desk to continuously page on-call engineers
- Help Desk is more efficient with handling requests as they don’t have to stay with a request until the system engineer or the engineer’s manager is contacted
- Managers can better manage team. Before, managers didn’t know if team members had responded to requests or how quickly. With OnPage reporting, they are aware of call volume and response rates and times.
When so much depends on proper response to calls from HCA nurses, doctors and PAs, it is critical to have proper alerting and on-call management in place. OnPage has been the key tool to ensure that alerts to system engineers are not missed but are instead answered in an expedited and efficient manager.
Patient care is why we’re here. That’s why we’re in business. OnPage helped us with that.
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