Population Health, EHR, Analytics Needs Drive Orgs to Consultants | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

 

August 15, 2018 - Health IT consultants are reaping significant financial rewards as provider organizations seek to bulk up their population health management technologies and big data analytics toolkits, according to a new survey from Black Book Market Research.

 

As pressure to engage in data-driven value-based care initiatives increases, healthcare organizations are likely to spend close to $53 billion in 2018 on consultants who can provide specialized project management expertise and technical aid for health IT optimization.

 

Around 64 percent of that market opportunity, or just under $30 billion, will center on the implementation, optimization, and integration of health IT systems that can support cost reductions and quality improvements, the survey of more than 1500 respondents indicated.

 

Hospitals, health systems, payers, pharmaceutical developers, and physician groups are all turning to consultants in droves due to widespread organizational challenges.

 

Eighty-one percent of respondents said that consultant contracts can help them cope with the lack of highly skilled IT professionals, while 74 percent are looking for support as cloud technology becomes more common in the healthcare environment.

 

More than 60 percent of organizations are looking for help optimizing their electronic health records (EHRs) and revenue cycle management (RCM) technologies, while 46 percent plan to supplement their technology training and implementation capabilities in 2019.

 

Value-based care, including population health management tools and strategies, is top of mind of 39 percent of respondents. Thirty-one percent are looking to improve their big data analytics and clinical decision support competencies.

 

A third of organizations are hoping to leverage consultants to help them work through compliance issues, as well, while 37 percent are interested in expanding their cloud infrastructure.

 

Cybersecurity, interoperability, and consumer-facing initiatives were less pressing but still of interest to participating providers.

 

Provider groups, payers, and health systems aren’t the only ones looking to leverage technology to streamline operations and create efficiencies.

 

Consultants, too, are shifting from traditional methods of deploying a specialist for an intensive project to using technology to automate processes and collaborate more efficiently, said Doug Brown, Founder of Black Book.

 

Organizations are also willing to take advice from experts with deep experience in niche problem-solving, and are likely to engage a number of different boutique firms that will be asked to work together to solve business problems.

 

Eighty-four percent of respondents said they will be taking a pick-and-mix approach to contracting with consultants.

 

“There is an accelerating trend away from one large consulting group retained to execute a substantial project for a health system client wherein 2019 we will see more arrangements where healthcare clients press multiple consultants and advisory firms to collaborate on project engagements,” said Brown.

 

“With the expanded network of knowledge, clients can gain their desired insights, and the relationships between the different consultants are mutually beneficial.”

 

For organizations that prefer one-stop shopping, Black Book identified eight comprehensive consulting firms that scored at least 9 out of 10 on all 20 key performance indicators monitored by the group, including technical support, optimization and implementation skills, system selection advice, and planning and analytics.

 

Among 142 comprehensive advisory firms ranked by customers, only Chartis, ECG Management Consultants, Huron Consulting, Impact Advisors, Leidos, KPMG, Optimum Healthcare IT, and The HCI Group received perfect or near-perfect scores from their customers.

 

The survey supports the results of a previous Black Book poll from May of 2018 that also tracked a significant uptick in reliance on outsourcing and consultants among physician groups.

 

At the time, more than two-thirds of physician groups with ten or more members were planning to hire a consultant by the middle of 2019, closely mirroring the interest outlined in the latest assessment.

 

A whopping 93 percent of the physician executives participating in the May survey admitted that they needed external help because their organizations lacked a strategic value-based care transition plan.

 

Less than 7 percent had started the process of choosing the health IT and analytics tools that would equip them for success with population health and revenue cycle improvements.

 

The lackluster preparedness landscape may be worrisome for providers, but it is good news for consultants looking to take advantage of multimillion-dollar opportunities to set organizations on the path to population health management, mature analytics architecture, and financial success with value-based care.

 

Provider, payer, and developer organizations that find themselves behind the value-based care curve will have ample opportunities to take advantage of consultants in a rapidly expanding market for specialist health IT skills.