What counts most in the world of health information technology consulting is performance, according to a new survey report by KLAS Enterprises, an Orem, Utah,-based market research firm.
Forthcoming KLAS report ranks IT consultants
The massive, 500-page report, Maximizing Your Consulting Investment: A Report on Healthcare IT Consulting Services, was scheduled for release March 9 and includes the results of hundreds of interviews with provider executives. KLAS provided Modern Healthcare with an advance copy on an exclusive basis.
Implementing clinical IT systems has careermaking or career-ending potential for hospital chief information officers, and with Congress recently authorizing that $19.2 billion be spent to advance the use of health IT, including direct subsidies for the purchase of electronic health-record systems, looking for quality help could be a priority for CIOs in the near term.
Work on the report began about six months ago, but includes data gathered over 18 months, said Mike Smith, general manager of financial and services research at KLAS and the author of the survey report. It is the work of a team of eight researchers and the product of more than 800 interviews with executives and managers of provider organizations that use IT consulting services, and IT system vendors and consultants, as well as data gathered from Web sites and healthcare industry reports, according to KLAS.
The report covers 38 health IT consulting firms, large and small. KLAS divided the consulting services market into seven segments: implementation of clinical systems as a primary consultant; implementation of clinical systems in a supportive role; implementation of enterprise resource planning financial systems; IT planning and assessment; IT staff augmentation; technical services; and vendor selection.
Perot Systems Corp., Plano, Texas, scored highest among outside consultants in the overall KLAS rankings for clinical implementation consultants. Perot took (or tied for) the highest scores in seven of the 17 component parts of the KLAS ranking system, such as services delivered within budget/cost and helps your job performance. Perot was one of 10 firms with enough engagements in clinical IT system implementations to qualify under KLAS standards for consideration in the overall rankings in that category (See chart).
Theyve been consistent, Smith said. When people look at Perot, they think of outsourcing, but they appear to be a solid player when it comes to implementing. They do a pretty good job at some of the blocking and tackling functions and the way they run the projects.
Tim Quigley, executive vice president at Perot Systems Healthcare, also in Plano, attributed the firms top ranking to a number of factors including its history of running day-to-day operations of outsourced hospital IT services.
Scoring second in the clinical implementation segment, Epic Systems Corp., Verona, Wis., tied or ranked highest in five of the 17 KLAS criteria, including earning the highest score of all 10 consultants for overall satisfaction. Regarding the companys rankings, Epic Executive Vice President Carl Dvorak said that he was happy it turned out well.
In addition to the seven service categories, KLAS divided the consulting firm landscape into three groups by the breadth of services they offer, groupings that also tend to reflect the size of the firms. Full-service firms are one category, and, not surprisingly, its members include the largest consulting firmsAccenture; Affiliated Computer Services; Computer Sciences Corp.; CTG Healthcare Solutions, part of Computer Task Group; Deloitte Consulting; IBM Corp.; and Perot Systemswhich all have broader capabilities and more depth than smaller, niche-specific firms. Some of those large firms are more bureaucratic in nature, not as competitive in cost and not necessarily the best in one area, according to the report.
The second group of consulting firms, according to KLAS, is the specialists. They tout expertise in either a service segmentfor example, some firms that do best on clinical implementation assignments, but not on financial systemsor by vendor, such as those that specialize in EHR systems from one or more vendors. These smaller firms tend to cost less than the majors, although that is not always true, according to KLAS report. Smaller firms may have problems with a lack of visibility, and their size may raise questions about their viability, but because of their narrow focus, they do one thing and do it well, according to the report.
Finally, KLAS finds there is a third group of hybrid consulting firms that dont have the breadth of the full-service firms, but have enough bodies and expertise to provide services across several market segments and can therefore provide reasonable continuity of service across consulting areas. They can be lower-priced than the full-service firms but, again, this is not always the case, KLAS said.
The report states that it is intended solely as a catalyst for a more meaningful and effective investigation on your organizations part and is not intended, nor should it be used, to replace your organizations due diligence.
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