Proactive Management of End-User Experience – Flipping the Paradigm

Managing the performance of HealthIT systems improves the end-user experience which leads to less burnout, better patient experiences and a healthier bottom line. Instead of monitoring individual systems, Goliath Technologies is flipping the paradigm.

Each day, hidden gremlins in HealthIT systems are eating into productivity and sapping team morale. These gremlins are relentless and just when you think you’ve caught one, two new ones rise to take its place. The net result is negative end-user experiences.

What is a negative end-user experience? It is any situation where an end-user of an IT system experience something unexpected that impacts their work in a negative way. This could mean:

  • Slow response times (click and wait)
  • Sluggish application performance (typing faster than words appear on the screen)
  • Inability to access the system at all
  • Frozen screens
  • Unexplained workstation reboots
  • Loss of network connection

…the list goes on and on.

In healthcare, when a negative end-user experience happens, patient care is impacted. Sometimes the impact is small – like having to wait a few extra seconds for the lab result to appear on the screen. Sometime the impact is significant – like having to reschedule or delay a procedure because clinicians cannot access the patient’s record to see contraindications.

Negative end-user experiences also increase the stress on the end-users themselves – adding to an already stressful environment.

“We are almost at the point in healthcare where reacting to negative end-user experiences is no longer acceptable,” says Thomas Charlton, CEO of Goliath Technologies. “When a system is slow, or not available, patient lives are impacted. Clinicians expect systems to be available when they need it and they want those systems to work as expected. It’s no longer about having an uptime of 99.999%, we have to monitor and manage the actual end-user experience itself.”

“Most of the time, people troubleshoot with free tools provided by the vendor,” says Donna Grare, EVP and Chief Technology Officer at Goliath Technologies. “When a user reports a problem like ‘I can’t connect to application A’, IT starts a troubleshooting tree from scratch because there are many things that could be the cause of the problem.  It could be limited to this user – an issue with their computer or their local network, for example.  It could be a broader issue based on changes made to profiles that impact many users – generally IT only finds this out when one call becomes 10, 50, or 500.  With that many calls coming in, it’s clearly not a simple, one person issue, but IT is stuck looking for the common thread between them.  This is very frustrating for both IT and the users.  One comment we hear often is IT saying ‘I’m very good at my job, and I can fix problems.  It would just be great if I could be proactive and get ahead of the problem instead of only hearing about it after it happens.’”

This is a very standard approach to system management. IT departments monitor the performance of discrete systems: server response times, network packet speeds, application error logs, etc to determine if something is wrong. Although better than nothing, this approach has several drawbacks.

“This traditional approach leads to a lot of finger pointing,” explains Charlton. “If I’m the manager responsible for the servers, I will point to my server logs and say that the issue isn’t with the hardware since all the servers are ‘green’. The application managers say the same thing and on and on. Everyone is reporting green yet end-users are still experiencing issues. That’s the second problem with the traditional approach, ‘green’ is often a state defined by the vendors of the systems. Just because something is green doesn’t mean that end-user experience isn’t deteriorating. Lastly, the traditional approach ignores how healthcare applications are inter-connected. Slow performance in one application can have a cascading effect on applications that rely on it for data.”

So what does proactive management of end-user experience look like? According to Charlton, proactive management means flipping the old approach to IT systems management on its head. Instead of looking at the individual elements of HealthIT systems, Charlton and the team at Goliath Technologies approach things the other way around. They start by monitoring the actual end-user experience and help IT teams work backwards from there.

“When healthcare organizations deploy our technology, they gain visibility to key end-user experience metrics right away,” continues Charlton. “We gather the performance from all internal systems into one place. There is embedded intelligence in our platform that is based on years and years of experience troubleshooting system issues. This intelligence monitors the gathered information and alters the IT team when system performance begins to deteriorate, often before the call from the end-users start coming in.”

This early warning is key to minimizing the impact on end-users.

For a real-life account of how the Goliath platform was used to address slowness with an EHR (spoiler alert: the problem wasn’t with the EHR application), check out this article.

I have to admit that before I sat down with Charlton and Grare, I had no idea that platforms like Goliath’s existed. Their platform is the result of years of work with other industries: banking, legal and managed services. Smartly, Goliath realized that they would have to pre-build connections to popular healthcare applications before organizations would adopt their platform. They currently have connections to: Allscripts, MEDITECH, Cerner and EPIC.

Given that the Goliath platform isn’t exactly new, I had to ask Charlton why more organizations haven’t already adopted the approach of pro-actively monitoring end-user experience. “I think there are three reasons why proactive monitoring hasn’t been as widely adopted as we would like to see,” says Charlton. “First, many have spent a ton of money on their core systems, but have not allocated enough to the tools they need to support those systems. So they end up just using what came with it. Those tools are good, but they look at systems in isolation. Second, I think many believe they have ‘proactive monitoring’ but are just doing the bare minimum – like pinging a system to see if it is up and running. That is very different than true proactive performance tracking. Third, I think IT people are just not aware there is a pro-active tool available like what Goliath offers.”

“We hear it all the time,” continues Charlton. “In fact we recently had a customer tell us: ‘I had no idea that this type of technology was available. I was trying to troubleshoot issues with the tools that came with the core system. Now that I look at Goliath’s system I realize I was trying to do brain surgery with a butter knife’. I couldn’t have said it better myself.”

What’s the bottom line for HealthIT leaders? End-user experience (system performance) is a key contributor to workplace stress and clinician burnout. As competition in healthcare becomes more intense, patients as well as clinicians, will opt for healthcare organizations where negative end-user experiences are minimized. They will leave for green pastures where they don’t have to wait for a record to come up or explain to a patient how their surgery was delayed due to a systems issue.

If you would like to find out more information about pro-active end-user management, check out this upcoming live-webinar by Goliath Technologies on Tuesday October 30th at 12:30pm ET

Goliath Technologies is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene. 


About the author

Colin Hung

Colin Hung

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.