In this conversation, Demonie and I discuss how SpecialtyCare’s Information Services department provides around-the-clock support to employees in ORs across the country and the unique challenges that can bring to her small team.

Speaker 1: Bringing you conversations with leaders within the operating room and healthcare community. This is Scrubbing In.

Todd Schlosser: Hello and welcome to this episode of Scrubbing In, a podcast powered by Specialty Care. I’m Todd Schlosser and today my guest is Demoine Pierce-Barrett, the manager for our information support help desk. In this conversation, Demoine and I discuss how Specialty Care’s information service department provides around the clock support to employees in operating rooms across the country and the unique challenges that can bring it to her small team. Enjoy the conversation. So think as much for joining us here on Srubbing In in our new Scrubbing In studio.

Demoine Pierce-: I like the studio.

Todd Schlosser: Well, I thank you. We’ve done a lot of work and I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, but we have with us Demoine Pierce-Barrett with Specialty Care IS department or information services department.

Demoine Pierce-: Information services.

Todd Schlosser: You’re the manager of what?

Demoine Pierce-: So I’m the manager of the help desk and we always say information services, not IT.

Todd Schlosser: Right.

Demoine Pierce-: Because our primary goal is to serve our associates, technology that can be done anywhere.

Todd Schlosser: So you mentioned that service that you guys provide. So what does that support look like? So what sort of services do you support?

Demoine Pierce-: Sure. Support is everything. It literally is.

Todd Schlosser: All encompassing.

Demoine Pierce-: All encompassing. From the monitor on your desk to the mouse that you use, from your phone, the applications, CDS, connections, SharePoint, your MiFi. Any of the applications, hardware or a software that Specialty Care provides, the help desk is first line of defense for support for those applications.

Todd Schlosser: So everything from, “I can’t even log into my computer because my password changed on me,” to, “My mouse is no longer working.”

Demoine Pierce-: Yes. Blue screen of death, I can’t get into connections.

Todd Schlosser: I’ve had that before.

Demoine Pierce-: Unfortunately most people have had that at least once. All of that, anything that’s Specialty Care provides for their associates as well as some of our contractors as well. We support them.

Todd Schlosser: Awesome. So about how many people would you say that is? From associates to contractors to even the corporate employees we have in this building?

Demoine Pierce-: We have approximately, I would say about 275 in the building.

Todd Schlosser: Just here.

Demoine Pierce-: Just here.

Todd Schlosser: On site.

Demoine Pierce-: Just here on site.

Todd Schlosser: But we have been more in the field.

Demoine Pierce-: That’s true. I don’t have exact field numbers. I know throughout the company, all employees included, a little over 1,900.

Todd Schlosser: So a little over 1,900 you support.

Demoine Pierce-: Yes.

Todd Schlosser: Only 275 of those are in the building. So I imagine that most of your support is remote.

Demoine Pierce-: Most of our support is remote, that’s true.

Todd Schlosser: So your team is just fielding calls all day, I’d imagine.

Demoine Pierce-: Oh, no. Much, much more than that. Much, much more than that.

Todd Schlosser: Swing and a miss.

Demoine Pierce-: Yes, no. So our service requests comes from calls, comes from emails, it comes from walk ups. Wherever the question comes from, that’s how we answer it. In order to prioritize and make sure everyone is taken care of, we prefer that our service requests comes in through calls, which is our 800 number, the 828-9872. Or either an email sent to the IS help desk, So that’s the quickest way in order to be serviced.

Todd Schlosser: So you guys are supporting at anywhere between 1900 and 2000 employees and vendors and contractors I should say, not vendors.

Demoine Pierce-: Contractors, yes. Our contractors range in number around 400.

Todd Schlosser: Oh, wow. So it’s even more than 2,000.

Demoine Pierce-: Yes. Exactly. Exactly. So when you look at it in the grand scheme of things, we have six people who are supporting 1,900 plus employees and our contractors.

Todd Schlosser: Your team is only six people?

Demoine Pierce-: Yes. There are six of us. We’re a happy bunch though.

Todd Schlosser: So you guys work a lot.

Demoine Pierce-: We do. We do.

Todd Schlosser: You guys start your day at 6AM I heard.

Demoine Pierce-: Yes, yes.

Todd Schlosser: I imagine, and the main reason I wanted to talk to you is because you guys support those, that actually support those in the ORs.

Demoine Pierce-: Exactly.

Todd Schlosser: You guys are providing support for agents that are actually going to the ORs, and surgeries happen around the clock.

Demoine Pierce-: They do.

Todd Schlosser: So you guys are either staffed in on’s, like on call 24 hours a day I’d imagine.

Demoine Pierce-: Right. Well, it works out a little bit differently because there is an IONM service line that has their own specialized help desk. So our help desk handles the 10 service lines. We field calls, questions and service requests from all 10 service lines. We’re open from 6 in the morning until 7PM Central Standard Time. We have an on-call person who is on-call for urgent emergency. So if you’re in surgery and your account is locked out or you can’t get into CDS, we can assist you with that. Now if it goes onto an IONM issue that’s specifically on IONM equipment, then we would move that onto the IONM team who also has their own on-call [inaudible] as well. So we have two help desks for specific service lines.

Todd Schlosser: Right. So when you get a call from someone who is in an OR, I imagined that they’re prepping for a surgery. Clearly they get there before the patient’s wheeled in for the surgery. But are they calling you hours before or is it usually minutes before when they’re having trouble with their systems?

Demoine Pierce-: So it really depends upon the service line. for profusion, most times they will call us after the procedure because they’re not using their laptops or desktops in during the course of the procedure. Same thing with MISS or surgical assist. IONM on the other term, they’re a little different. They are actually using their equipment to monitor patient brain waves during the course of the surgery. It really just depends on when they get the call. If they find out ahead of time that there’s an issue with their computer and they call us an hour ahead of time, that’s great. We have time. But that’s best case scenario. Most cases, it doesn’t happen like that and it’s not the IONM clinician’s fault.

Todd Schlosser: Sure.

Demoine Pierce-: You turn the laptop on 15 minutes before the person’s coming in, “I can’t connect or my RSA token isn’t working or my password isn’t working.” So everyone has the intention to be ahead of the game and to start ahead of the curve. But sometimes life deals you, “Hey, we’re starting the surgery early.” Okay. What do I do then? So when you find out is when you find out. We think of it, at help desk like this, when you call us, we’re here to service you. Now, based upon the urgency, if you’re after the case as opposed to before the case, that will be a normal ticket that our level one person would take that ticket for and then our level two rep will call that person back within the timely amount of time. If you’re in the OR, then our level one person will go, “Wait a minute, I will make this ticket urgent and we’ll have a rep contact you back,” and urgent tickets are returned within 20 minutes, generally within about 10. Yeah.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah. Because I mean, there’s a sense of urgency at that point.

Demoine Pierce-: Exactly.

Todd Schlosser: Because you have he patient potentially waiting, hopefully not waiting.

Demoine Pierce-: Yes, but sometimes-

Todd Schlosser: Yes, but you want to beat that clock.

Demoine Pierce-: You do, you do. We kind of think of everything with a sense of urgency, of course.

Todd Schlosser: Sure.

Demoine Pierce-: When you call, it’s urgent because it’s important to you. It just depends on how our call queue looks. Someone who’s rolling into the operating room does get priority over someone who needs a printer installed. But still you need your printer installed. So we’re here to service that as well.

Todd Schlosser: So I’d imagine with these calls you’re getting either post surgery or pre-surgery or just from people who need printers installed or their mouse, mouse, mice?

Demoine Pierce-: Mouse. That’s okay too.

Todd Schlosser: I don’t know what’s correct.

Demoine Pierce-: You know it’s all right. We’ll go with either one.

Todd Schlosser: How many would you guys say that you guys field? How many calls would you field for these tickets?

Demoine Pierce-: Well, last year we took a little under 12,000 calls.

Todd Schlosser: Wow, just the six of you?

Demoine Pierce-: That’s the six associates.

Todd Schlosser: That’s a lot.

Demoine Pierce-: Six associates took 12,000 calls. The tickets that they help desk handle, those particular six associates, a little bit under 8,000, around 7,759,
something like that. Those were-

Todd Schlosser: Sure. [inaudible].

Demoine Pierce-: There you go. Those were tickets that were exclusively handled by the help desk. Our goal is to always handle the issue if we can. However, if it needs to be escalated, then we’ll move the ticket on to the next team, whether that be technical infrastructure or CDS or Salesforce. But our goal is initially to service you.

Todd Schlosser: Right.

Demoine Pierce-: Right. When that level two person gives you that call back.

Todd Schlosser: Sure.

Demoine Pierce-: If needed, then we escalate.

Todd Schlosser: Sort of a first call resolution. When you call on the first time, we either call you back if it’s an urgent situation.

Demoine Pierce-: Right.

Todd Schlosser: You’re at the OR waiting, we call you back within 20 minutes to try and resolve it right then.

Demoine Pierce-: Yes. Totally.

Todd Schlosser: I mean, you don’t want to have them keep creating more tickets if you can resolve it right then.

Demoine Pierce-: Right, right. Exactly.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah. Awesome. So I do know, and you’ve mentioned RSA once already.

Demoine Pierce-: Oh, okay.

Todd Schlosser: RSA is something that you guys worked over a lot over the course of last year.

Demoine Pierce-: Yes, yes. We did. The entire information services team were just integral in making sure that RSA was deployed. So RSA is our two-factor authentication software that we use that is terribly important, terribly important being a healthcare facility to have. One factor authentication just wouldn’t do. We need to protect our data as well as the data of our customers.

Todd Schlosser: Sure. Because you’ve got a patient information on those laptops.

Demoine Pierce-: Right, right. That’s totally true.

Todd Schlosser: So you’ve got to protect that from a HIPAA compliance standpoint but also an ethical standpoint.

Demoine Pierce-: Ethical standpoint.

Todd Schlosser: Keep it safe.

Demoine Pierce-: Exactly. Exactly. When you’re going into a new hospital to sell Specialty Care, how much better is it when you can say, “Hey, your day will be safe. We have two factor authentication.”

Todd Schlosser: Yeah, absolutely.

Demoine Pierce-: So that was a huge project. I would [inaudible] really say all of information services really dug in to make that happen. All of us worked over and beyond and it was an important project to deploy and we got it done.

Todd Schlosser: So I’d imagine, I know it was working over the course of months last year that you were implementing this but-

Demoine Pierce-: Third quarter mostly, yes.

Todd Schlosser: Okay, so it was in the third quarter you were able to get the entire company on RSA.

Demoine Pierce-: Yes, yes.

Todd Schlosser: Or using the RSA token.

Demoine Pierce-: Using the RSA token, yes. As well as RPIs, our contractors.

Todd Schlosser: Okay. So that’s roughly 2,400 people.

Demoine Pierce-: Yeah.

Todd Schlosser: Or give or take.

Demoine Pierce-: Give or take. Give or take a hundred.

Todd Schlosser: How many contractors we have. Yeah.

Demoine Pierce-: Exactly, exactly.

Todd Schlosser: That’s a lot of people to implement a new policy and procedures.

Demoine Pierce-: It is.

Todd Schlosser: Especially one that can be seen by the end user as an annoyance.

Demoine Pierce-: Right.

Todd Schlosser: It’s not that they don’t understand or that they don’t have the buy-in, it’s just an extra step for them.

Demoine Pierce-: When you’re clinical, we totally get it that that’s one more thing. But I can remember the days when a password could just be generic.

Todd Schlosser: Like password one.

Demoine Pierce-: Exactly. Everybody was fine with that.

Todd Schlosser: Pretty sure that’s not HIPAA compliant anymore.

Demoine Pierce-: It is not HIPAA compliant anymore. As technology changes, we have to change with it and hackers work every day to try and infiltrate systems. We have to be one step, two step, three steps ahead of them.

Todd Schlosser: Especially patient date.

Demoine Pierce-: Exactly. That’s information that can be sold. We have to protect that and so this was something that was a must. It was edict by our VP, Mary [Grovner], John [Arena] that this was a must to protect our data and our patient data and we worked together and got it done along with a great executive team and all of those people who just really pulled in to make sure that it was understood, marketing, why this was important and why this had to happen. Really our company, our employees fell in line because ultimately it’s for the benefit of the patient.

Todd Schlosser: Yeah. So were there any moments over the course of let’s say last year that you’re particularly proud of that your team accomplished?

Demoine Pierce-: Okay, that’s a good question. Each and every day, I am so proud of my team. Six people including me who service 1,900 plus employees and contractors who show up every day with a positive attitude who are patient and who are kind. I think they do an excellent job, and on a daily basis, I’m very proud of them. So I would literally say that every day is my proudest moment with my team because I think my team is exceptional.

Todd Schlosser: That’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard a manager say in my life. I sort of have to agree with you because I do request to your team all the time. Is John on your team?

Demoine Pierce-: John is not on my team. John was actually promoted from help desk to technical infrastructure, but he came from help desk.

Todd Schlosser: There you go. So John and now I guess his replacement come over [crosstalk].

Demoine Pierce-: This year?

Todd Schlosser: Yeah. So I deal with this all the time and they’re great. They’re very professional and it’s a little bit different for me because I’m actually in the office. They could just run to my office and we talk and they fix whatever the issue is. I’d imagine it’s a little bit different experience for those who are on the phone.

Demoine Pierce-: It is. It is.

Todd Schlosser: Going in.

Demoine Pierce-: You can contact us when, “Oh, this isn’t working.” “Well, let me walk over.”

Todd Schlosser: I walk over all the time. It’s probably not the right thing to do.

Demoine Pierce-: That’s okay. We still make your ticket for you, Todd.

Todd Schlosser: You do, you do. Yeah.

Demoine Pierce-: It’s okay. It’s fine. But when you’re out in the field, we understand that you’ve probably tried to fix whatever the issue is three, four, five, six times. I literally had someone on the phone this morning who said, “I’ve been trying for an hour and a half to get this done,” and so what I would say is that, “Please don’t wait an hour and a half.” It’s so much easier to send that email after, “Hey, I’ve tried it. I said, three time’s a charm, it’s not working. It’s not working for me.” Don’t waste any more of your time doing something that we can help you with. So send us the email, make the phone call. If we all happen to be on the phone, leave a voicemail. Your voicemail will be picked up. Your phone call will be answered. Your email will be answered. A ticket will be made and someone will give you a call back and then you can go on with the rest of your life and the rest of your day and not spend your time trying to work on something that’s really not in your scope anyway and you have bigger and better things to do. Don’t wait until the point of frustration. Call-

Todd Schlosser: Call early enough.

Demoine Pierce-: Call early enough. exactly, exactly.

Todd Schlosser: Awesome. Well, Demoine, thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate you joining us on Scrubbing In in our new Scrubbing In studio. It’s quite lovely.

Demoine Pierce-: I feel privileged to sit in the new studio. It is, it’s nice. It’s very nice.

Todd Schlosser: Thank you so much.

Demoine Pierce-: Thank you for allowing me to be here.

Todd Schlosser: Absolutely.

Demoine Pierce-: All right. Thanks, Todd.

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