While demand for implementing electronic health record systems within hospitals and health systems remains consistent, health IT consulting firms are discovering new challenges as some providers revisit their current systems for the first time in search of greater return on investment.
According to Modern Healthcare’s inaugural 2019 Healthcare IT Consulting Firms survey, firms reported that over the past several years providers heavily sought to acquire EHR systems that aligned with meaningful use without full consideration of the technology’s greater potential to their business. For these providers, needs are shifting to a focus on reaping greater value from existing systems and re-engineering strategies, especially as organizations continue to consolidate.
“Organizations face the burden of costs of multiple systems and duplicative processes that are sometimes contradictory and may lead to downstream waste, quality issues and inefficiencies,” said Evan King, principal and chief operating officer at COPE Health Solutions in Los Angeles.
The majority of firms responding to the survey said that the growth in healthcare M&A activity has led IT consultants to engage in contracts to streamline governance, create shared culture and values, and implement technologies that cut costs.
IT consulting firms are also pivoting from hiring a contracted external vendor and instead embracing practices more closely resembling a joint-venture service partnership. As healthcare is being disrupted, organizations are trying to reduce the number of relationships, focusing on more strategic partnerships, according to Jason Wainstein, leader of healthcare consulting technology at Deloitte.
Kaleida Health Chief Information Officer Cletis Earle said that consultants also have been peppering in the idea that they can help providers traverse the new value-based care models. He remains cautious, however, whether they can guarantee results without more success stories. “I encourage them,” Earle said, “but can they show how it has been done before? What are the outcomes? What worked in Mississippi is not necessarily going to work in Buffalo.”