The phone is already ringing when Tami Swain, a service desk analyst for Akron Children’s Hospital’s Information Services (IS) department, gets to her work station at the start of her shift.
On the line is a new employee who’s having trouble logging onto his computer.
“I’m sure I can help you with that,” says Swain. She turns on her two computer monitors and starts working on the problem. In just a matter of minutes, Swain has resolved the issue.
As the hospital has grown, so too has the need for the service desk staff to help employees with a range of technical issues.
“We are responsible for more than 4,000 PCs in the hospital’s system,” said Ronda Wicks, IS service desk team lead. “We take calls for problems with everything from the keyboards to the monitors to the software.”
Swain’s morning goes quickly while she fields calls from the hospital’s Akron campus and its many remote sites. On most days, she handles about 30 calls asking for help with any number of software and hardware issues.
“Sometimes what might seem like a minor problem to some people might be a big issue for the person calling,” she said. “I always try to keep a positive attitude when I’m on the phone. That seems to help the caller relax and realize that we’ll be able to resolve the problem.”
Swain may handle 50 or more calls a day when a system fails or has major issues.
She and the other service desk staff are responsible for notifying and updating IS leadership and system users throughout the hospital of the status of major issues, and staying in touch with the technical staff working on the problem.
They also verify the status at clinical units, and notify system users when the issue has been resolved.
Each day at 10:45 a.m., Swain and her colleagues have a service desk “huddle” – a brief meeting lasting about 15 minutes.
“We talk about common issues that may have come up and ways to resolve them,” Swain said. “The huddle is a great way for us to bounce ideas off each other and collaborate on solutions.”
The analysts also review the previous day’s statistics so that they are always aware of how well they service their customers.
“A lot of employees have trouble remotely logging into their email,” said Swain. “I always talk the employee through the process when they call, but I also send them a tip sheet that lists the steps. If they encounter the problem again, they can just refer to the sheet to help resolve the issue.”
Swain’s next call is for help with installing new software. One of the monitors on her desk allows her to see what the caller is seeing on his computer. She moves through the various screens and gets the software up and running.
While some of the “fixes” are routine, others aren’t.
“Technology is changing all the time,” said Wicks. “We try to be proactive and make sure that we keep on top of what’s out there, so that we can help the employees if they run into problems.”
Swain, a five-year Children’s employee with an associate’s degree in computer science from the University of Akron, appreciates the hospital’s commitment to education.
“Thanks to the hospital’s education reimbursement program, I’m going back to the University of Akron in the fall to get my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “I know it will be a lot of work, but I also know it will be worth it.”
In between her calls, Swain checks the service desk email. Hospital employees often send requests about non-critical issues, such as a printer that’s low on ink or a keyboard with a sticky key.
Swain handles several emails before her phone rings again. The caller is a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse who’s having trouble with a bar code reader.
“When an employee calls our department, they’re given the option to move their call directly to a service desk analyst if they have a problem that’s critical to patient care,” said Wicks. “We take these calls very seriously. We don’t ever want a technology issue to get in the way of helping our patients.”
Swain quickly resolves the issue from the NICU nurse and takes another look at the department’s email before heading home at the end of her shift.
“My favorite part of the job is that every day is different, and it is always a challenge,” she said. “I really enjoy my job and I knew the first week I was here that I could spend the rest of my career working for Children’s.”
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