What to Know When Hiring an Epic Consultant

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Category: EMR Musings

What to Know When Hiring an Epic Consultant

If you work in the medical industry, you know that Epic is everywhere. Whether you’re a receptionist, nurse, physician, or administrator, you’ve likely heard of, seen, or worked directly with an Epic EMR.

As many an IT manager or analyst knows, optimizing your Epic system to be a software solution that users actually like to use can prove to be very difficult. At a certain point, it becomes nearly impossible to keep up with all of the regulatory requirements, upgrades of new features, and requests for enhancements and optimizations with your existing in-house team, and so you have to look for outside help.

Because of the high cost that comes with hiring an Epic consultant (you can expect to be charged $100-$200 an hour), you’ll want to make sure to be target your search efficiently. Having a clearly defined plan for what the consultant’s engagement should be is paramount to making sure that you don’t exhaust your entire year’s budget in short time, and have little output to show for it.

There are hundreds of EMR consulting firms (and dozens of Epic-specific consulting firms) to choose from. Knowing exactly what you’re looking for ahead before you start your search for firms can help you make sure that you’re spending your limited budget efficiently.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when starting your Epic consulting search:

Open-ended Projects Can Translate into High Costs

There’s nothing worse than bringing in a consultant who bills at $150 an hour without having something specific for them to work on. There’s a common adage, known as Parkinson’s Law, which says that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

If you give a consultant a long, open-ended project, it’s likely that they’ll take longer to complete it than they actually should. More billable hours mean a higher take-home pay for these consultants, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself paying much more than you initially budgeted for after you hire a consultant. Instead of hiring a consultant for one of these open-ended projects, you’d probably be better off training and staffing an internal team member to do the same work.

Cross-certified consultants can be your best friends

A lot of the hard work of getting a consultant on-boarded onto your Epic project involves giving them access to your system, making sure they’re familiar with your healthcare system, and getting them up to speed on user base. This takes time, and time equals money. When you hire a consultant that’s certified in multiple, related Epic applications (e.g., Ambulatory and Inpatient, Inpatient and OpTime, Ambulatory and MyChart), you can gain a lot of efficiencies that you otherwise may have been paying different people double the money to achieve the same work.

Epic consultants can be expensive. Before hiring one, first, make sure you actually need one. Is this truly something that your in-house staff can't do a good job at? Do you know exactly what they'll be working on and how you expect to measure whether or not it was a success? 

If you answered no to either of these questions, you may be better off re-examining your need for an Epic consultant. The resources would probably be better spent hiring top-notch full-time talent or making your in house team happier with better benefits and compensation.

Nick Zussman

Nick spent four years working at Epic helping healthcare organizations implement and optimize systems for thousands of physicians

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