David Malicoat
David Malicoat

Considering implementing a clinical service desk?

Here are 5 things you need to know

Clinical service desks can bridge the gap between traditional IT help desks and more specialized customer service solutions designed for the medical sector. By having a skilled practitioner at the desk, solutions can help organizations deliver better, more effective care to patients while significantly improving productivity. But clinical service desk solutions are relatively new and jumping on the bandwagon without fully understanding what you need can lead to problems down the line.

1. The space has not fully matured

One of the most important things to know about clinical service desks is that they are a relatively new development and some solutions may not have reached the level of maturity your company requires. Unfortunately, healthcare providers looking for an implementation that follows industry best practices may struggle when they find that the rules of this space have not yet been completely written. This makes it difficult to contract with smaller providers that may not have yet proven their ability and may be unable to provide a convincing argument that their solution is strong and reliable.

In many cases, the relative immaturity of the space manifests itself through highly customizable, a la carte offerings. There is not yet a well-defined preset grouping of services and features that most companies offer. Although this provide great flexibility for customers that know exactly what they want, it can be confusing for customers that don’t. Organizations should strive to understand what’s available, and choose providers they can trust before moving forward with an implementation.

2. It’s important to decide who will be using the solution

Prior to contracting with a vendor or implementing a solution, it is critical that the organization understand how, and by whom, the clinical service desk will be used. In some instances, the solution is only used by physicians, in others physicians and nurses, and in still others by all clinicians. Different users have different needs, and deciding the scope and functionality required by the organization ahead of time will help set clear goals and allow you to work with vendors to find a solution that works for you.

3. Some solutions are purpose built around EMRs, some aren’t

Leaders of the clinical service desk space like Epic and Cerner have purpose built solutions designed to work effectively with EMRs and meet the unique needs of healthcare professionals. Other vendors may or may not have the level of maturity of these providers, and could potentially cause problems. Customers must carefully vet vendors and choose one that can deliver the functionality and expertise necessary to productively aid the practice.

4. Deciding how users get in touch is key

Ultimately, the way users interface with the service desk is critical to its day to day use. There are two primary options when it comes to communication, single and multiple phone lines. In the single phone line option, users call in and are routed to the necessary person via a phone tree. This provides simplicity by having only one number to remember and call, but navigating a phone menu can slow users down when they need information quickly. The other option is having two or more numbers. This may get users the information they need more quickly, but increases the complexity of the system.

5. Features vary from vendor to vendor

The services and features included in a clinical service desk solution can vary greatly. In some cases, solutions are only focused on EMRs. These tools are primarily designed to help healthcare providers solve EMR related problems and find patient info more quickly. Other solutions take a more comprehensive approach and offer one call fixes for any IT or EMR related issue. In some cases, this can take the place of a more generalized IT help desk solution and streamline the organization. However, these concierge solutions may not be able to offer the same specialization as more specific options.

Clinical service desks can provide significant boosts to productivity and quality of care in the medical sector, but they can also be challenging to navigate. Being a young space means there aren’t as many established best practices or predefined solutions. Ultimately, healthcare providers must carefully plan their clinical service desk strategy, define goals, and choose an option that meets their unique needs.


Wavestone US assists clients in the medical and healthcare sector with advisory services related to information technology, sourcing, service methods and service delivery. To learn more about Wavestone US’ services, visit https://www.wavestone.us/capabilities/

David Malicoat

David has over 20 years of experience with IT service delivery, with a track record in transformation and transition, IT cost optimization, sourcing, global operations, vendor management, strategy implementation, and data center migrations. He develops inventive opportunities for leveraging IT, in order to improve operational excellence and create competitive advantage.

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