Health Care Service Management, In Need of a Transfusion

Mike Wasserman

by Mike Wasserman

Our team at Sovereign has been fortunate to work with many healthcare providers on their goals to improve healthcare analytics. The opportunity to impact the quality of care and improve reimbursements is significant with the data being accumulated, now that most organizations have mature electronic health record systems (EHR).

An emerging trend, especially for Epic and Cerner customers has been a move towards hosted platforms, freeing them from the cost to maintain their EHR of choice. This removes all the cost, staffing needs, and complexity of maintaining the infrastructure and staff to support a complex case management solution.

While some healthcare organizations plan to move to hosted platforms, many still are maintaining their data centers and EHR platforms.

The great news is that there is a simple move to the cloud that could simplify the operation of their data centers and ensure greater application SLA’s for their EHR’s.  This being a move to mature and enterprise ready Service Management Platforms such as ServiceNow.

There’s no lack of investment healthcare providers have to make with infrastructure and virtualization software to maintain the hefty performance, scalability, and service levels an EHR requires. However, many of the healthcare providers we work with have minimal ITIL process. In fact, more often than not most healthcare providers are still relying on legacy on-premise ticketing systems, providing no more than a central dumping ground for requests, one step above email.

Remember when the guy from ‘Girls’ showed up in the New Star Wars movie and you said to yourself, well they got 90% of it right but ‘Darth Maul’ is way cooler then the guy from ‘Girls’ playing ‘Kylo Ren’ the Vader impersonator.

Well that’s what we see at many Healthcare Providers. They cast the EHR correctly but the Service Management platform is a poor impersonator of what should be deployed to ensure mature process and availability of critical systems such as Epic, Cerner, McKesson, etc.

We are working with many healthcare providers who have taken this first step and are moving to cloud based ITIL platforms such as ServiceNow.

Below I have listed some of the key drivers and benefits we are seeing healthcare customers recognize when ‘recasting’ their Service Management Platforms.

  1. ‘Ticketing’ is not Service Management: We see a common excuse of, “I have ticketing, and it’s only $16,000 in maintenance a year, why would I shift to an expensive cloud based platform? Now let me go focus on Sharepoint upgrade number five.” This simply doesn’t make sense. On-premise platforms are clunky and take so much care and feeding, that most customers never really get beyond ticketing without some major investment.  However, we are seeing cloud based customers surge quickly into Service Catalog, Change Management with actual links to CMDB CIs, and more. So that legacy ticketing system that you think only costs $18,000 a year is costing you far more than that.
  2. Service Management = Public Relations for IT: I was fortunate enough to have a CIO identify for us that ServiceNow represented a fundamental shift in how IT communicates with the clinical user base. If you think about how quickly the service catalog is available for consumption, and the distributed nature of healthcare, it makes perfect sense. There’s a big gap between IT and the user base in healthcare, more so then many other verticals, the service catalog represents a fantastic way to drive transparency and communication into this space.
  3. Quick Time to Value: Let’s face it, yes an enterprise cloud base service management platform is going to cost more than your $16,000 per year ticketing system. But the impact is so great on operations and end user out reach its worth it. Also, the time to value compared to other IT projects is unparalleled. How many more share point wrap and rolls can one do, and at what cost? I have not seen many IT projects execute as quickly as I have with ServiceNow in Healthcare or any other vertical. More importantly, customers can expand outside of just ITIL and build a Nurse Scheduling application, perform HR onboarding, use the project management application for deployment of the EHR, etc.
  4. It’s about the CMDB!: There’s a legacy bad practice from the on-premise service management world carrying over these days where customers continue to put the CMDB and discovery as Phase II or Phase III. To accelerate into change management and application modeling CI’s HAVE TO BE in the CMDB. This used to be Phase II or Phase III for on-premise service management because ordering, installing, configuring, and integrating the CMDB took a lot of time. Also, expect third party discovery integration to be significantly more complex than if you use the native discovery provided by the service management vendor.
  5. IT Operations Management: We can do with ServiceNow and applications like Evanios Operations in days, what used to take months with on-premise service management and event management platforms. It’s no longer necessary to have end users calling IT every time the EHR is having an issue and then press the war room panic button. We can identify the components of an enterprise application like the EHR in the CMDB and pull only the critical events into ServiceNow. Effectively letting the service desk know before the end users precisely what component of the EHR service is having an issue before anyone calls. Solutions like Evanios Operations are intelligent enough to correlate with CMDB, identify that say a change was made to a server, and that the change is likely the problem. We’ve seen recently healthcare customers even starting with discovery and CMDB before the basic Incident, Change, Problem deployments. I’m not saying discovery will ever be simple, but the goal of real intelligence and agility for IT is now possible.