In this final blog of my consulting trilogy, I would like to share some insights on our research into where healthcare organizations anticipate needing consulting help in the future. Interestingly, almost 40 percent of the time that organizations identified an emerging need, they were unable to name a firm best suited to meet that need.
Most organizations considering specific firms do so because they have engaged with them before and established a good relationship. Very few say they are considering a firm due to its expertise in a specific area. Clearly, establishing a strong track record matters!
The above chart identifies the upcoming consultation needs that many hospitals and practices will face. In speaking with providers while preparing our upcoming report, I gained many insights into why these needs have arisen. Let’s break down a few of the bigger needs:
- Implementation Services
HIT implementations have been a focus for many years in healthcare, and implementation work continues as the top area providers need help with going forward. In 2015, the number of acute care EMR purchasing decisions made in the US shot up to levels not seen since meaningful use began.
Aside from EMR implementations, many organizations indicated they will need help implementing revenue cycle products. Providers also would like to engage firms to assist them with go-live support and with training during implementations.
- Healthcare Management Consulting
As healthcare grows more complex, providers continue to look for expertise to assist in navigating new trends and issues. The provider organizations interviewed for our upcoming consulting study state that they will need help tackling topics such as financial and operational improvement, growth and consolidation, strategy, consumer engagement, regulation and policies, payer consulting, human capital consulting, referral management and customer relationship management, to name a few.
- Value-Based Care (VBC) Consulting
The transition to VBC is still a daunting prospect for many organizations, and engaging outside help for strategies regarding VBC and population health remains a top priority for many healthcare organizations. One VP of operations reported, “There is a tremendous amount of work that has to be done, and I think most firms will underestimate that work.”
- IT Advisory Services
The IT advisory work organizations report needing includes help with key issues such as interoperability, IT platform consolidation, vendor selection, and IT strategy and planning.
Over 30 organizations reported the need to optimize their EMR, revenue cycle, or ERP systems.
One CIO I interviewed put it this way:
“There is a lot of functionality that has not been turned on or that has been turned on but is not being optimized. So I am embarking on what I call my Epic-enablement program. It is really about leveraging our investment. I told the rest of our executive team that over many, many years we have done a good job implementing Epic but that we haven’t necessarily taken advantage of the investment and enabled the automation of processes and workflows. We haven’t really done a good job of engaging the organization around some standards.”
As a result, over the past 2 years, we have seen a 130 percent increase in the number of optimization engagements that providers are engaging in.
- Security Services
Healthcare data breaches are occurring with increasing frequency. These attacks have providers across the country working rapidly to update lagging technology to protect against increasingly sophisticated attacks.
These attacks also incite providers to turn to security firms for assistance in conducting compliance audits, assessing security readiness, and implementing security procedures and programs.
- Analytics Consulting
With the healthcare industry shifting from volume-based care to value-based care, providers have a growing need for analytics. They need to aggregate data; understand the data; measure performance, costs, and outcomes; and report across the continuum of care.
In conclusion, as the needs of organizations evolve with technology, consulting firms must adapt by taking a collaborative, strategic approach to understand each client’s specific needs and unique characteristics.
Additionally, firms that consistently deliver on their promises by providing competent, efficient resources will have the most positive impact on their clients and healthcare IT in general. Third-party healthcare consultants will always play an important role: helping providers fill the gaps in their strategy and IT setup.
In our recently published report “Healthcare Consulting 2016: Who Can Help with Current and Future Needs?” you will be able to find further insights regarding these consulting firms.