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Medical Center help desk adds automated chat services

Mar. 2, 2023, 9:51 AM

VUMC Information Technology is seeing increased use of the automated chat feature available through the Medical Center’s help desk.
VUMC Information Technology is seeing increased use of the automated chat feature available through the Medical Center’s help desk. (iStock image)

by Paul Govern

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s information technology help desk has an online component called Pegasus. As users will have noticed, down in the lower right of the home screen, a chat feature has been added to Pegasus.

A VUMC help desk chat session starts out with automated prompts and canned responses and switches over to a chat with a live agent as issues become less routine and more specific. Development of the chat feature is led by Kevin Reed, who leads the services management team at VUMC Information Technology.

The median length of help desk chat sessions is around seven minutes, said Chuck Tilton, associate director, VUMC Information Technology Support Services. Quietly introduced last May, chat currently accounts for less than 2% of help desk communications. But Tilton said the chat service has a 92­­% satisfaction rate, and its use is growing. Currently, 83% of help desk tickets are initiated with a telephone call. The help desk is at 615-343-4357 (3-HELP); alternatively, users can go to Pegasus at to fill out a self-service ticket or get chat assistance. Tilton expects at least 20% of help desk volume to move to chat once users catch on.

The help desk is the initial point of contact for VUMC employees, patients and families seeking technical help with matters such as computer or printer hardware and connectivity; clinical, administrative, or business applications; telehealth; and the My Health at Vanderbilt patient portal. The help desk supports users of some 42,000 managed devices across VUMC, assisting with more than 3,000 incidents each month, involving 16,000 to 19,000 calls, self-service tickets and chat sessions. (Around 25% of help desk requests are from patients and families who need help using the My Health at Vanderbilt patient portal to review health records or use telehealth videoconferencing services.)

“Outside of work,” Tilton said, “our users have become used to having multiple channels to interact with the various services and websites that they use. People start to expect that at work, so we’re trying to provide that. We introduced chat in part because we recognized that some people, particularly clinical users, may not want to pause and pick up the phone to get help. M­any people in a hurry currently rely on Pegasus self-service tickets, but they’ll find that chat is going to be much quicker for resolving problems.”

For first-line support for users, VUMC contracts help desk services from NTT Data Corp., headquartered in Tokyo. U.S.-based NTT Data employees answer VUMC help desk calls and work self-service tickets 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and they provide live chat weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All requests for clinical applications support are routed to VUMC’s in-house 21-member Clinical Applications Support Team, also a 24/7/365 service.

On April 1, VUMC will turn off several business and administrative systems in favor of a more integrated system called MyWorkday. The help desk will provide first-line support for MyWorkday users across the institution, and its chat service will be expanded to handle MyWorkday support requests. Teams standing by in Human Resources, Finance and Medical Center Supply Chain will handle any user issues that require support beyond that provided by the help desk.

Any MyWorkday chat sessions that turn out to require the attention of a live agent will bypass the help desk and go straight to the appropriate in-house team.

For more on MyWorkday, see the implementation website at

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