Building a proactive IT support structure

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CHICAGO—IT support needs to transition from the firefighter to the fire prevention model. Support can be reactive or proactive, and it should be no surprise that the proactive model yields superior results ranging from increased IT and radiologist efficiency to improved systems operations. RSNA participants stuck in the reactive model received a crash course in practical and operational improvements during a Tuesday morning refresher course led by Paul Nagy, PhD, associate professor of radiology at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore at the 94th annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Nagy shared a number of processes used by the medical center IT department to improve the quality of IT support and increase the effectiveness of the IT program. The first task centers on mission. Is the IT department aligned to the clinical mission of radiology? Do IT staffers understand the level of radiologists’ IT dependence?
Bringing both departments to the same page serves as the starting point for effective IT support. Next, the IT department needs to build systems and processes to facilitate proactive support and system monitoring. Nagy’s department developed a web-based problem management system to improve communication. The department uses a blog to streamline communication; all actions and resolutions are tracked and communicated to the submitter and IT staff. “The blog format carries a number of benefits,” stated Nagy.

  • It builds a knowledge base for future issues, saving time as many issues and problems tend to repeat.
  • IT support becomes transparent to management as all issues are tracked. “We know how many issues are resolved, the speed of response and service level,” shared Nagy.
  • The blog model builds staffing redundancy. IT support is prone to turnover; the blog serves as a departmental database.
  • It helps keep vendors accountable by consolidating and retaining data about systems issues.

Nagy also outlined the benefits of multi-system automated detection tools like Radtracker, an open-source solution that proactively monitors clinical systems. Proactive monitoring adds value to IT operations by extending problem management structure, said Nagy.
The transition from firefighting to fire prevention is worthwhile and necessary, and it can be straightforward. Key components include blogs and multi-system automated detection tools.