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Header image for the current page Providing an IT service desk for commissioners and GPs in Essex

Providing an IT service desk for commissioners and GPs in Essex

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When commissioners in Essex appointed Arden & GEM to deliver corporate and GP IT support, mobilisation and continual improvement of a service desk for users was a fundamental element of the contract.

Not only was an efficient and effective service delivery model established to meet collaboratively agreed KPIs but the service desk has also evolved to support the transition to integrated care, and the changes in structures and architectures required as part of this process.

The challenge

In 2018, a group of seven Essex CCGs appointed Arden & GEM to deliver corporate and GP IT support in an initial three year contract (with optional two year extension) following a competitive tender process.

A fundamental element of the support needed was to deliver a single-point-of-contact for both CCG and GP practice staff that covered a diverse range of users and technology issues. This required the creation of a service desk with the capacity and expertise needed to support 320 sites and 7,500 users.

Issues identified as requiring service desk support fell into the following categories:

Service mobilisation needed to be completed within three months including working closely with the incumbent provider to ensure a seamless transition.

Our approach

As an established provider of IT support services within the healthcare sector, we rapidly deployed a service delivery team and model that adopted our existing Continual Service Improvement (CSI) processes. Structured project governance and reporting – including detailed action logs and agreed timelines – was applied using industry standard approaches.

Our initial task was to work collaboratively with the client to fully understand their requirements. These initial scoping meetings played a pivotal role in ensuring the solution delivered against the client’s expectations.

Service delivery model
Using learning from the initial scoping, and applying best practice gained from operating across a large customer base, we quickly shaped a service desk capable of providing the support required.

This comprised an overarching head of service delivery, focused on strategic transformation, supported by regional operational service delivery managers and localised service delivery teams. Local teams included a team manager, technical senior service delivery and service delivery engineers.

A key success factor in mobilising the service was implementing skills-based telephony routing to ensure users were signposted to the correct subject matter experts at the first point of contact.

Working efficiently
A key challenge in transitioning services from the incumbent supplier was maintaining two IT Service Management (ITSM) platforms concurrently. An ITSM platform enables the efficient and effective management of all contacts to the service desk. Running two ITSMs tools side by side not only led to duplicate effort but using different processes and referencing also created a risk that incidents wouldn’t be logged or tracked appropriately. This issue needed to be resolved quickly by agreeing a cut-off point and close down process for logging contacts in the incumbent’s ITSM, but also recognising that some incidents and requests would need to remain open for a longer period in the new ITSM.

Reporting and metrics
We created clear reporting and metrics to ensure the client was fully sighted on the service provided. Weekly meetings were established to review service delivery, with more formal monthly operational reviews and contract reviews also put in place. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) were collaboratively agreed and established with monthly reporting provided to demonstrate performance. Given the size of the contract, flexibility was required as customer requirements evolved e.g. where KPIs were inevitably impacted by COVID-19 and changes within the customer working model, metrics were reviewed with new measures established to reflect the changing environment.

Onboarding new users
The scale and scope of service delivery has flexed throughout our relationship, including mobilising a Primary Care Enabling Services (PCES) contract in 2020 for primary care and PODs (pharmacists, optometrists and dentists) which covered delivery of Registration Authority and NHSmail support. We have also successfully onboarded Any Qualified Suppler (AQP) customers commissioned to deliver services and new integrated medical centres.

Moving to integrated care
As the local health economy transitioned to integrated care arrangements, the original seven CCGs become part of three different ICSs. This change required five CCGs in Mid and South Essex to consolidate into one ICB. To support the consolidation, a number of collaborative workstreams were established including one for user, data and asset information collation and transfer. Arden & GEM was a key member of this workstream, designing new active directory domain policies, new data structures and a phased options appraisal for moving to an Office 365 architecture.

Continual improvement
We continue to work closely with all stakeholders to support the significant landscape changes happening across the NHS – contributing proposals for new delivery methods, services and KPIs to support this evolution. As part of our CSI focus, we are constantly looking at new ways of working through strategic development, technology changes and automation. For example, we have recently moved to a new ITSM tool, Halo, improving user experience when logging and tracking incidents and service requests, and increasing our efficiency.

The outcomes

A fit for purpose service desk was fully established and embedded across the health and care system within the agreed three month mobilisation period. The service has enjoyed a strong performance against the KPIs collaboratively established with the customer. We consistently meet and exceed primary KPIs including:

The initial contract period of three plus two years has been extended for a further two years with ICBs in Essex and we continue to work collaboratively to support both those in the ICB and clinicians delivering direct patient care.

Find out more about our IT services here.