KLAS: 70% of providers looking for health IT consultants

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As the healthcare industry marches headlong toward meaningful use, demand for skilled health IT consultants is high, according to a report from market research firm KLAS.

The report, which is based on interviews with 118 healthcare providers, found that nearly 70 percent of those interviewed expect to hire a professional services firm to help with the demands of achieving meaningful use.

While just five firms enjoyed significant provider mindshare in 2007, 13 companies provide those services today, according to the report. Accenture, ACS, CTG, FCG (now CSC) and IBM now share mindshare with Vitalize, Dell Perot, maxIT Healthcare and others, as “intellectual capital has been spread out as key people have left the top firms,” the authors wrote.

“The healthcare IT professional services landscape has changed dramatically in the last three years,” said report author Mike Smith, general manager of financial and services research for KLAS. “Not only has the number of considered firms increased significantly, but the nature of services projects has changed as well. Since most large hospitals have already completed a major EMR implementation, more targeted engagements with smaller budgets—including advisory services and staff augmentation—are replacing the big budget, large-scale implementations.”

The KLAS report detailed which consulting firms are being considered the most by providers who are looking to hire outside help. Topping that list is CSC, which has moved from near the bottom of provider mindshare in 2007 to the top in 2010, and is today considered in 17 percent of deals. Vitalize is second among those interviewed, being considered in 12 percent of purchase decisions, followed by Dell Perot at 9 percent.

The firm also reported that another factor that is driving demand for experienced consultants is the migration of Meditech clients to the company’s version 6.0 platform. “As Meditech tries to move more than 1,500 U.S. hospitals to v.6 and clinical features like computerized physician order entry, firms like Beacon Partners, Dell Perot and especially Navin, Haffty & Associates, are seeing much more demand for their services than three years ago, thanks to their experience with Meditech,” the authors wrote.