More often than not, a medical practice will hire the IT “guru” or “specialist” down the street to handle their information technology infrastructure, deployment and ongoing maintenance. In addition, they may rely on this person to help make decisions for a new electronic medical records system or a clinically-related piece of electronic hardware. What often is missing in these processes is the person (or group) that has knowledge of efficient, integrated IT systems AND understands provider needs, medical practice workflow issues, cost-effective purchasing, cash flow analysis and long-term business strategies. These things are all tied together and should be handled as such in the decision making processes – whether it be to purchase all new workstations for the clinic or to roll out an entirely new electronic medical records system. This is where the decision to hire an IT consultant with medical facility experience can make all the difference. Yes, this person may be more expensive than the IT “guru” down the street, but wouldn’t you be willing to pay $10,000 more now to save $50,000+ in the years to come.
Just as a layperson is impressed by someone introduced as “Dr. Jones”, who may be anything from a neurosurgeon to a chiropractor to an economist, an “IT specialist” may be a high-school graduate (if that) who has decided to hang his computer shingle out for business. And don’t rely on someone with no technical training who is considered “computer-savvy” by friends or colleagues.
In his article, Peter Polack lists some additional thoughts for consideration in finding the right IT consultant.