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Hospitals rank technology optimization as their biggest IT demand

Healthcare management consulting industry projections top $53 billion in 2018, says Black Book.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

The need for technology optimization leads as the top demand of hospitals and health systems over the next year-and-a-half, according to a new Black Book Market Research client satisfaction survey, which also showed the top picks for healthcare technology consultants.

At least three quarters of the 1,586 survey respondents occupy senior level positions such as CEO, CFO, CIO and COO, that make decisions about IT spending.

In being asked to select five of their highest priority engagements for their organizations by the end of 2020, technology optimization drew the highest demand at 61 percent.

This was followed by software implementation and training at 46 percent; accountable care and value based care, 39 percent; transforming systems and clinical integration to the cloud, 37 percent; strategic revenue cycle management review, 32 percent; regulator, government regulations and compliance, 31 percent; and decision support, business intelligence, AI, analytics, 31 percent; 

Hospitals, health systems, medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers, payers, insurers and physician groups all seek consultants for specialized project management expertise.

Nearly two-thirds, or 61 percent of providers participating in the survey, will seek advisors to optimize their current EHR and revenue cycle management systems, Black Book said. Another 46 percent plan to access experts in software training and implementation in 2019.

The most substantial portion of management consultant engagement expenditures, 64 percent or about $29 billion, involve the implementation of software, information systems, systems integration and optimization, and support for the growing number of industry mergers and acquisitions, according to the survey.

The respondents said the three current market drivers of healthcare consulting at their organizations are a lack of highly skilled IT professionals, adoption of cloud technology and increased industry digitalization.

Cybersecurity,  interoperability, healthcare consumer initiatives and payer contract negotiations ranked low, with none among the top ten consultant engagements prioritized for 2019.

Eighty-four percent of respondents report they will be seeking multiple-sourced consultants to work on engagements and projects together including single shop consultants, single freelancers, group purchasing organizations, HIT vendors, networks of freelancers, boutique advisory firms, as well as major consultancies.

"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 Doug Brown, founder of Black Book..

Among the 142 healthcare IT advisory firms receiving validated client evaluations in the survey process, eight consultancies achieved scores of 9 or higher on a 0 to 10 scale in all 20 key performance indicators.

Black Book's top-rated, comprehensive IT services consultant firms are (in alphabetical order): Chartis, ECG Management Consultants, Huron Consulting, Impact Advisors, Leidos, KPMG, Optimum Healthcare IT and The HCI Group.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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