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Value-Based Care Drives Demand for Health IT Consulting

Value-based care, cloud infrastructure, and compliance issues push organizations to seek health IT consulting firms.

health IT consulting

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- The need for efficient technology that cuts costs has significantly boosted the health IT consulting market. Efficient health IT infrastructure tools are need as organizations continue to rely on technology for value-based care.

Organizations are looking into advanced health IT solutions such as networking, virtualization, and analytics to better connect and communicate with patients as well as gain better insight into their health. While many of these advanced solutions have a positive ROI, they can be expensive to purchase and deploy.

Spending a significant amount of money on a health IT budget can’t be done lightly. The tools themselves are expensive, and deploying them incorrectly or not using them to their full capacity can end up costing organizations money, time, and efficiency.

When deploying an advanced solution of any kind that must comply with existing infrastructure, healthcare organizations are advised to seek outside help. Enlisting the aid of an expert can help organizations make the right tools and vendor selections so they know they’re getting the most out of the money they are spending.

The health IT consulting market is rapidly rising because of continued digitization of healthcare tools. The market is expected to grow from $45 billion in 2017 to nearly $53 billion by the end of 2018, according to Black Book research released August 14.

The Black Book survey polled over 1,500 healthcare professionals and found that lack of highly skilled health IT professionals, cloud adoption, and increased digitization are the leading reasons why provider organizations are seeking outside consultants.

“Consultants continue to benefit from the ongoing pressures to improve efficiency and cut costs including the transition of markets from the fee-for-service model to value-based healthcare,” said Black Book Research. “Hospitals, health systems, medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers, payers, insurers, physician groups seek skillful advisors for counsel and specialized project management expertise.”

Interoperability is one of the top health IT challenges that drives the need for consultants. Organizations can purchase an advanced piece of software, but it might not be compatible with existing infrastructure systems. The organization may not have the staff on-hand to solve the compatibility issue. Bringing in an outside expert who has experienced many of the same issues across different healthcare organizations can help organizations transition existing infrastructure smoothly with new tools.

The survey found that provider organizations are most interested in hiring consultants for value-based care and population health advice, cloud infrastructure, compliance issues, and big data analytics. 

“Clearly, a framework of freelance and small niche advisors is redrawing the industry lines with the help of more knowledgeable buyers, pushing traditional consulting firms to explore innovative business models and forcing more collaboration in the market,” said Black Book founder Doug Brown.

Consulting firms are also taking technology in stride as they move away from labor-intensive specialists and take advantage of automation. Automation is a pre-programmed set of rules that follows a command to complete the next steps of a task. Automation can help consultants and organizations move quickly through time consuming, mundane tasks while integrating or deploying new systems.

“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.

Many organizations seek multiple-source consultants, so they don’t become pigeonholed into one method or one preferred vendor.

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

Health IT budgets are restricted, and organizations need to make sure they get the most out of the money they spend. While hiring a consulting firm is an added cost, it will help organizations achieve the highest possible ROI over time because the tools they invest in will be properly integrated and functioning at their highest capacity.

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