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7/11/2011
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Consultants Deploy Healthcare Apps Better Than Vendors

Third-party firms almost always do a superior job implementing a vendor's applications as compared to the vendor itself, says a new KLAS study.

Healthcare IT Vendor Directory
Slideshow: Healthcare IT Vendor Directory
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Whether in a leading or supporting role, third-party firms specializing in a vendor's applications almost always implement them more adeptly than the vendor itself--often by a wide margin, according to a new KLAS study, Clinical Implementation Services: High in Demand But More Specialized in Need.

Every vendor, except for Epic, was outstripped by third parties specializing in the vendors' own applications. Coastal and Peer Consulting, for example, outscored GE in overall satisfaction by 30 or more points out of 100. ACS and Vitalize overtook Allscripts by 20-plus points, and Encore and Vitalize outscored Cerner by the same margin.

But, according to report author and KLAS Services Research General Manager Mike Smith, that doesn't mean the vendors can be left out of the process altogether.

"It's important to note that some things which the vendor does the consultants do not do, and so they both play important roles in these engagements. For example, typically the vendor will come out and play a role in configuring some of the software and getting things set up on their side of the fence--maybe that's 30% of the overall work" said Smith. "Then they say to the provider, 'Here are the things you're responsible for.' The provider will either bring some resources in-house to fill in those gaps or look to a third-party consultant."

Examples of such third-party positions might be project managers, application specialists, or individuals who can oversee the implementation of specific modules, like pharmacy or emergency department.

Some vendors, Smith said, venture farther afield than others. Epic, for example, prefers to remain in the traditional vendor role, while organizations such as Cerner offer more in-depth consulting services.

Smith says many vendors--stretched to the brink with Meaningful Use-related work--may not mind third parties jumping into the bandwidth breach. But even those third parties are feeling the talent pinch, with some combining forces to bid for big jobs that couldn't be handled alone.

Providers, however, can't be appeased by simply being promised a certain number of resources from a particular firm, but must demand to know exactly which people will be coming to do the work, Smith advised.

"These firms may have great credentials, but it really does come down to people--both what tools and methodology do they have, and who are the actual people who are going to be assigned to the project," he said. "Some of these firms are growing quickly and may have new players, so you need to be confident that whoever you get can make you successful."

The report categorizes vendors/firms according to either principal or supportive roles. In the first category, Deloitte earned the highest score among third-party firms, at 88.8 out of 100 points, while Epic took first among vendor-only implementations, at 92.3. In a supportive capacity, IHS was the highest rated third-party firm (96.5) and Siemens the top vendor (78.7). The report also rates 13 other firms/vendors, including ACS, Accenture, Allscripts, Cerner, CTGHS, Dell Services, Encore, GE, maxIT, McKesson, NHA, Siemens, and Vitalize.

Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of healthsystemCIO.com, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at aguerra@healthsystemCIO.com.

IT is caught in a squeeze between requests for new applications, services, and device support and demands from upper management to keep budgets lean, staffing light, and operations tight. These are irreconcilable objectives as long as we spend the vast majority of our resources on legacy services. Read our report now. (Free registration required.)

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