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AMS & Help Desk 2018
Which Firms Are Exceeding Expectations and How?

author - Ryan Oliver
Ryan Oliver
December 27, 2018 | Read Time: 6  minutes

Both the number of relevant firms and the depth of services offered within application management services (AMS) and help desk services have expanded in recent years. Some long-term players in the market are falling behind (e.g., CareTech Solutions, Cerner, and NTT DATA), and a few newcomers have widened the field (e.g., Cumberland, emids, HCTec, Nordic, and ROI Healthcare Solutions). KLAS spoke to 130 provider organizations who shared their experience with their AMS and help desk firms.

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Note: For context on how these firms fit into the larger IT outsourcing framework and other industry-level insights, see Industry Insights & Context section below.

who provides go forward ams for cerner and epic
four stars

Nordic & Cumberland, Newcomers with Epic Application Expertise, Deliver Strong Customer Experience

Nordic and Cumberland (LinkEHR) are relative newcomers to the AMS space and stand out for their Epic expertise. Nordic is one of the largest Epic-focused services firms and drives high customer satisfaction with quality, knowledgeable resources. Cumberland, who recently acquired LinkEHR, is noted for strong expertise and also for their responsiveness to customers. HCTec provides primarily Epic support but also supports other applications, and respondents praise the firm’s engaged leaders, who are willing to be flexible.

overall score distribution

Cerner, with Largest Customer Base, Delivers Poor Experience for Some

Cerner has by far the largest customer base of measured firms and continues to grow. About half of customers are very satisfied with the firm’s performance, pointing to strong executive communication and engagement. However, a notable number are dissatisfied; these customers experience inconsistent resource quality and expertise and struggle to build relationships because of high resource turnover.

Previously Best in KLAS, CareTech Sees Dramatic Performance Drop

In past years, CareTech Solutions won multiple Best in KLAS awards for partial IT outsourcing. The firm was acquired in 2014, resulting in leadership turnover, and soon after, performance began to decline significantly. Today, CareTech customers report poor executive communication, inexperienced resources, and high turnover, resulting in a 15.1-point drop in overall score (out of 100.0) over the past two years and putting the firm near the bottom of measured firms.

Broad Firm GuideIT Offers Strong Collaboration; NTT DATA Falls Behind with 0% Reporting Exceeded Expectations

GuideIT is the only broad firm (AMS & help desk) exceeding expectations for more than half of interviewed customers; respondents praise the firm’s accountability for meeting SLAs and timelines and their focus on building collaborative relationships with internal IT teams. Additionally, GuideIT’s executives bring strong experience to the smaller firm, which is noted for flexibility.

exceeded expectations vs overall score

Among all measured firms, ROI Healthcare Solutions (mostly legacy AMS) has the most-satisfied customers, and the firm exceeds customer expectations often because of highly involved executives who adapt to client needs and experienced resources who consistently meet deadlines. A majority of Nordic customers have had their expectations exceeded thanks to account managers’ strong communication and support resources’ quick problem resolution. The limited number of respondents using emids are highly satisfied and feel the firm exceeds expectations by providing responsive resources who proactively seek ways to improve support efficiency.

Half of respondents engaging Nuance, who is focused on clinical and patient service desks for Epic organizations, have had their expectations exceeded thanks to flexible account managers and strong analytics around issue-resolution satisfaction. CareTech Solutions (noted earlier for their recent performance decline) falls short, with high resource turnover and insufficient issue resolution. Among all measured firms, NTT DATA has the least-satisfied customers; they report high turnover among the executive team and, consequently, poor communication. No NTT DATA customers feel the firm has exceeded their expectations.

Key Metric High & Low Performers

KLAS also asked provider organizations how well their firms perform in key metrics. The firms who stand out in each of these areas—for better or worse—are highlighted below.

Highest Performers

Service-Level Agreements


“Encore has been phenomenal in meeting our SLAs and the metrics that we agreed upon. The firm is extremely conscientious about SLAs. If there were a circumstance where Encore didn’t meet the metrics, they would communicate with our leadership team about why they reached a barrier. If we asked Encore to make a change that would result in a hit to the SLAs, they would be very up front about that. They have done a great job in meeting our SLAs and communicating any reasons why an SLA might not be met.”—Director of Clinical Informatics

Performance Transparency

Stoltenberg Consulting

(Mostly Legacy)

“Stoltenberg Consulting gives us a weekly status report that is very detailed. It shows exactly what they did and who they talked to. They are very good about documenting what they are doing. Anything I need to be aware of is included, such as any good calls or any alerts from me.” —IT Director

End-User Satisfaction

ROI Healthcare Solutions 

(Mostly Legacy)

“We chose ROI Healthcare Solutions because of their ability to provide excellent customer service, production, and accessibility at the percentages we expected. . . . Their knowledge and customer service are above what we expected. All their processes are streamlined and solid. They can close tickets and resolve production issues faster than we could. We have actually learned a lot from ROI Healthcare Solutions.” —IT Director

Lowest Performers

Service-Level Agreements & Performance Transparency


“We get visibility from [NTT DATA] because visibility is part of the SLAs. They show us the rates for abandoned calls and outages, so we know the symptoms, but NTT DATA doesn’t provide reasons why they aren’t meeting the metrics. When something goes down, they give us a root-cause analysis, but the analysis isn’t in plain English. It is filled with jargon. It is like something the tech team would send.” —CIO

End-User Satisfaction

CareTech Solutions & Cerner

“[CareTech Solutions] never exceeded 25%–50% resolution on first-level incidents. It was almost impossible to gauge their true effectiveness because of the way they reported their metrics. . . . We had to dig deeper, ask for subsequent reports, and do our own metrics. The reality is that CareTech Solutions had people who had a very general and very limited skill set. . . . CareTech Solutions did not meet our expectations. They completely underwhelmed us.” —Associate VP of IT

“Cerner can get so caught up in their own metrics that they don't respond to us. They try to close tickets so fast that they don't always fully resolve our issues. Cerner is sometimes more focused on meeting the terms of our agreement than on helping our end users. They don’t fully resolve issues, but they say they resolve them to meet their SLAs.” —CIO



With increased pressure on healthcare organizations to optimize their new applications, lower costs, and maintain end-user satisfaction amid these changes, many are looking to outsource IT work. Application management services (AMS) and help desk services are two areas with the highest market energy.

scope of firms offering ams and help desk services

Wide Variation in Customer Expectations

Effectively providing AMS and help desk services can be extremely complex, and expectations range in complexity from improved ticket responsiveness to expert resources who can offer strategic guidance. For more detail on what firms can do to meet these expectations, see the Expanded Insights section of this report.

customer expectations for ams and help desk services
author - Amanda Wind Smith
Amanda Wind Smith
author - Natalie Jamison
Natalie Jamison
author - Robert Ellis
Project Manager
Robert Ellis
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This material is copyrighted. Any organization gaining unauthorized access to this report will be liable to compensate KLAS for the full retail price. Please see the KLAS DATA USE POLICY for information regarding use of this report. © 2024 KLAS Research, LLC. All Rights Reserved. NOTE: Performance scores may change significantly when including newly interviewed provider organizations, especially when added to a smaller sample size like in emerging markets with a small number of live clients. The findings presented are not meant to be conclusive data for an entire client base.

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