Consultants Specializing In HIT Vendor Apps Do Better Installs Than Vendors

Posted on August 7, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Here’s some interesting research which, if you take it seriously, could have an impact on how your hospital spends its EHR installation dollars. The study, by KLAS, suggests that  HIT consultants do better a better job than the vendors themselves when installing many health IT applications.

The study, which was first released a few weeks ago, concluded that with the notable exception of Epic, clients were much more satisfied with the work done by third parties specializing in the vendors’ own apps. For example, ACS and Vitalize outpaced Allscripts by 20 points (out of 100), and Coastal and Peer Consulting outranked GE in overall satisfaction by 30+ points, according to an Information Week piece reviewing the research.

KLAS, which classified firms as having either principal or supporting roles, found that Deloitte earned the highest score, at 88.8 percent out of 100 point. Epic did even better, taking 92.3 points out of a 100, first among vendor-only implementations.  High-scoring supportive firms include IHS (96.5) and Siemens (78.8).

All that being said, it may not be smart to rely on just one of the high-scoring service providers, KLAS General Manager Mike Smith told the magazine. With both vendors and consulting firms sapped for talent by Meaningful Use-related jobs, it’s probably a good idea to work with both sides, as both can make special contributions. For example, vendors typically help to configure their software before turning it over to consulting firms, Smith notes.

OK, so far so good. After turning this issue over in my head a bit, though, I realized that the Information Week piece left out some details that might have been helpful. My questions include the following:

* Are outside consultants less expensive, about equal in price or far more costly to work with than the software firms?

* Are consultants likely to stick with you for the long haul (i.e. a few years later when something breaks) or will they be too busy to return your calls?

* How good are consultants at handling your support calls? Are consultants getting an edge because vendors aren’t supporting their own products?

Of course, these are just a few thoughts. What else might you ask if you’re considering a consultant for your EMR installation, and wondering whether you can do without them?