Federal Health COVID Solutions for IT Support

Federal Health COVID Solutions for IT Support

This article was originally posted on fedhealthit.com by Heather Seftel-Kirk, a staff writer of FedHealth IT, on December 2, 2020.

This interview with Rick Hill, Senior Vice President at HumanTouch, discusses the challenge for Federal Health agencies operating 24/7, with remote staff, under the burden of tighter budgets and with an ever-increasing demand for efficacy and responsiveness and offers insight on becoming ‘part of the agency’ in delivering a solution.

The Challenge

Federal Health agencies have always operated under the need to deliver quickly and efficiently. Whether we are talking about Veterans Affairs and VISNs, DHA and MTFs, the Food and Drug Administration and drug approvals, or the Centers for Disease Control, during this pandemic and other health emergencies, these agencies operate under a need to deliver, regardless of what may be happening on the IT side. They have distributed staff, situations they need to be able to respond to, and they don’t have time to wait for trouble tickets to be resolved so they can continue their work.

When we think of the typical situation of a computer or phone related issue requiring a call to a central line, wait time for an agent, perhaps redirection to a Tier 2 support person, and then even more wait time if the equipment needs to be repaired or replaced, we’re talking about a lot of potential downtime that can impact the flow of scheduling testing, of communicating with a patient or drug company, or with the public around a pandemic.

Meeting the Customer Where they Are

About a year and a half ago we began prototyping a solution that allowed us to be where the customer is. Through a Kiosk-as-a-Service solution and smart locker technology, we are able to provide Tier 1 and Tier 2 support to Federal agency staff where they are and work. They can access immediate support with live, connected agents who can physically see what is happening to their equipment, then troubleshoot or resolve device issues. If the laptop or phone needs replacement, the smart lockers provide an on-the-spot replacement solution.

The overall result is an improved customer experience, cost savings and improved efficiency because device downtime is minutes, rather than hours or even days.

Customer Experience

Across Federal health there has been an increased focus on customer experience – both from the view of the public as a customer, and the end user or client as a customer. Industry, in supporting our Federal customer, needs to find ways to achieve this kind of better user experience, helping agencies continue to deliver, regardless of what is going on.

During COVID, with people working from home, the ability to pop into the office to quickly access this kind of technical support has been invaluable.

Becoming Part of the Agency

Recognizing that each agency has its own security and protocols, we set these kiosks up within the agency’s walls, adhering to their specific security requirements and privacy settings. By locating the kiosks just inside the agency, past security screening checkpoints, staff have easy access to the IT support they need while guaranteeing limited contact and security controls. And being within the physical walls means solutions naturally have to fit the required agency profile.

Providing an evolving solution that becomes part of the specific agency and is adaptable to each agency and its unique profile, is key to ensuring the Kiosk as a Service is successful.

What does 2021 Hold?

I don’t know that anyone can say with certainty what the future holds but we do expect a continued and greater shift toward customer service and customer experience. We know agencies will need to continue to modernize infrastructure, iterate proven formulas and reduce costs.

Looking at how we might provide more efficiency in IT departments we see an opportunity to use the kiosks and smart lockers to accomplish PC refreshes or updates for entire departments overnight. It also supports inventory/asset management and eliminates mailing costs and potential losses. This solution can help agencies better contain large volumes of assets in limbo in the field, with staff being issued new units out of necessity but no easy way to return the old, or no concrete tracking to be able to connect who has what. Solutions like this will allow for more control, for assets to be recovered and potentially repurposed.

Supporting our Federal customers is not just what can we bring to the table that is new, but also how we support agencies holistically from technical refreshes, to managing budgets and supporting operational efficiency.

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