Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Today we are continuing our 'Great Healthcare IT Consulting' series, with a look at Epic Consulting.
As with any EHR implementation, choosing the right consultant is crucial to its success. However, choosing the right Epic consultant is a challenging task. Epic certifications are difficult to come by and, at the same time, the large number of health care organizations implementing Epic is driving demand for the limited number of consultants upwards. While, at times, it might seem like just getting any Epic consultant in the door is better than nothing, bringing the right one in can have a major effect on your company's success with the software. Here are a few questions that you should be asking.
1) Do You Have Real-World Experience in Epic Consulting?
The first question is key. It's essential to find out whether the Epic consultant has both the skills and experience to fit into your organization. Many Epic consulting companies are staffed with ex-Epic employees. This has the benefit of offering you consultants who are skilled at operating and configuring Epic software. However, without real-world experience in managing healthcare IT, it can be difficult for a consultant to understand the challenges that you face as a part of implementing and using Epic in your organization. Some of the best Epic consultants bridge experience and certifications with real-world know how, honed through years of working for healthcare companies – as well as working for Epic.
2) How many Epic modules do you know?
Secondly, an assurance that your Epic consultant will have understanding across a range of modules can increase their value to you. While it's difficult for someone to gain access to the Epic system and gain certifications, once they've earned one, earning additional ones is less challenging. Although the training requires them to go to Epic headquarters in Wisconsin, the tests are open-book. With this in mind, there's no reason that a consultant can't hold certifications in multiple Epic modules.
Having a multi-disciplined consultant can be valuable as modules in Epic's EMR system are very closely integrated. In this type of setup, problems in one module frequently cause trouble in additional areas of the system. Epic consultants who can't take a big-picture view of the system's many components won't be able to effectively solve problems.
3) What clients have you helped on an Epic Implementation?
Thirdly, another critical question to ask is what specific clients your potential Epic consultant has worked with. It's one thing to have a consultant give you a list of hand-picked customers. However, if you can get a list of additional references from the consultant or find them yourself, you might be able to get a more complete sense of his/her skill set, work ethic and capabilities. Before committing to a consultant, it's wise to do as much due diligence as you can. After all, great consultants might not always achieve great results, but they should still do a good job all of the time - not just some of the time.
4) What problems have you solved?
Lastly, it's essential to find out what solutions he/she has historically provided. Given the complexity of Epic, your consultant shouldn't just be someone that can implement the software for you. Instead, he/she needs to be able to go beyond the Epic implementation into actively helping clients use the software to solve real operational problems. A good consultant can share stories of past projects where he/she has helped clients to use different features of the software together to create a synergistic result.
In summary, choosing an effective Epic consultant is not a simple task. However, by asking these types of questions you can help to ensure they are a valuable contribution to the success of your Epic implementation.
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