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HIT Assessment & Strategic Planning 2018
Which Firms Partner to Exceed Expectations?

author - Warren Whitford
Warren Whitford
author - Lois Krotz
Lois Krotz
May 31, 2018 | Read Time: 6  minutes

Healthcare IT advisory services firms have never been in higher demand. Due to struggles with complex enterprise systems, integration, interoperability, and the growing complexity of the HIT regulatory environment, healthcare providers have a burgeoning need for help with a wide variety of IT assessment, strategy, and operational engagements. This research will focus on helping CIOs understand: Which firms offer the broadest scope of advisory services? Who is doing the most HIT advisory work? Which IT advisory firms understand healthcare's unique challenges? In which areas does each firm excel? And which firms lead in providing quality consultants, strategic competency, operational execution, and tools & methodology?

In a Market Where Meeting Expectations Is the Norm, Cumberland & emids Technologies (Encore) Most Consistently Exceed Them

While all firms are capable of providing outcomes above clients’ expectations, some are more consistent in doing so. Five of the six interviewed Cumberland clients say the firm exceeded expectations. They highlight Cumberland’s ability to deliver helpful results rather than general recommendations. Clients do note that the firm could be more consistent in delivering advice that is highly personalized. emids Technologies (Encore) also consistently exceeds expectations. Clients appreciate emids’ knowledge level and willingness to provide information that clients need to know, even outside a project’s original scope. emids’ clients report poorer money’s worth than do clients of other firms, with one reporting nickel-and-diming and another describing the firm as expensive.

how often do firms exceed expectations
top factors driving missed or met expectations

Impact Advisors, Chartis Group Provide Quality across Large Number of Projects; Nordic Top amid Many High Performers; Accenture Lags Behind

Impact Advisors and Chartis Group are among the few firms to provide high-quality outcomes across a larger number of clients and projects. Interviewed Impact Advisors clients appreciate the firm’s focus on completing projects on time, on budget, and within the agreed-upon scope; some even report coming in under budget. Still, only about 50% report that their expectations were exceeded. Clients would like more involved guidance and more highly personalized deliverables. Chartis Group manages stakeholders well and provides strategic, personalized expertise. About half of interviewed clients feel their consultants went above and beyond; for others, the engagement was more of a checklist. New to the advisory arena, Nordic—the highest overall performer—creates immediate value in engagements through expertise and thought leadership. Clients don’t as consistently report very high personalization. Accenture is the lowest overall performer—the firm met expectations for 50% of clients and missed expectations for 50% (no clients reported exceeded expectations). Accenture clients with missed expectations say deliverables weren’t personalized to organizational needs or weren’t implementable. Overall, Accenture clients report less value than clients of other firms.

overall performance vs experience

Thought Leadership from Nordic, Deloitte Prepares Clients Well for Future

Firms with strong thought leadership are able to lead clients into still-developing future states. Almost 80% of organizations who feel their firm has very high thought leadership also report that the firm exceeded expectations. Deloitte and Nordic are particularly strong in this area, sharing valuable market knowledge and forward-looking strategic guidance. Deloitte clients who report exceeded expectations say that Deloitte helped them take the next step and actually implement the firm’s strategic advice. Huntzinger Management Group and Navin, Haffty & Associates (NHA) are two high-performing firms whose projects generally have smaller budgets and shorter timelines. The limited sample of interviewed clients praise the firms’ thought leadership, strategic expertise, and ability to prepare clients for the future. Prominence’s market expertise helps clients prepare for the future. One interviewed client felt the firm could have been more flexible in adjusting their deliverables to the client’s needs. Accenture and ECG Management Consultants rate behind other firms. The interviewed Accenture clients who worked with the firm’s Sagacious division report higher thought leadership than the interviewed client who worked with Accenture consultants. This client was disappointed with inconsistent consultants who did not prepare the client well for the future.

firms ability to provide thought leadership

Advice from Deloitte and PwC Highly Personalized to Clients’ Needs

71% of respondents who received a very high degree of personalization also report that their firm exceeded expectations. When clients report a low level of personalization, they often describe their experience as “cookie-cutter” or as resulting in deliverables that they “could have received from Google.” Deloitte and PwC excel in personalization. Both develop a deep understanding of clients by completing involved assessments and tailored analysis. Though PwC provides highly personalized advice, inconsistent quality between consultants has damaged some clients’ opinion of the firm’s thought leadership. Feedback on Huntzinger Management Group, Navigant, and NHA comes from a smaller pool of clients. Still, 100% report a very high degree of personalization. Consultants spend a lot of time on-site gaining an understanding of clients in order to deliver relevant deliverables.

how often do firms provide very highly personalized advice

Bottom Lines

One of few firms doing large, complex advisory work. Traditionally considered by large health systems/AMCs for clinical transformation, workflow redesign, implementation planning, and structured tools/methodology. Acquired Epic-focused Sagacious in 2015.

Chartis Group
Broad, healthcare-specific firm. Solid reputation for highly strategic deliverables in complex engagements. Misses have occurred only when firm has been stretched thin and has put less experienced resources in charge of project details.

Well known as technical firm capable of helping with assessment and strategy work. One of smallest firms in the market. Completes a lot of HIT projects but is not reported to run many large, complex, strategic engagements.

Broad HIT consulting firm servicing payer, provider, and life sciences clients. Known for strategic IT consulting. Very knowledgeable consultants, though some clients feel firm’s resources lack overall clinical experience.

Major cross-industry consulting firm with broad capabilities. Projects are typically much larger in scope and cost than other firms’. One of the few capable of handling large engagements for complex organizations. Noted for collaborative approach.

ECG Management Consultants
High-scoring, healthcare-focused firm with longtime experience. Works mostly with repeat customers. Highlights include professionalism, experience, knowledge, integrity, and processes. Strong analysis and recommendations.

emids Technologies (Encore)
Recently acquired by emids Technologies, Encore was a boutique HIT consulting firm with relatively broad expertise and capabilities. Acquisition combines Encore’s experience with emids’ global reach/resources and complementary payer capabilities.

Huntzinger Management Group
HIT consulting company engaging in mostly smaller projects. Broad set of capabilities; proven to provide high-quality advisory services and consistently exceed client expectations.

Impact Advisors
Consistent, major player in IT advisory. Many consultants previously worked at larger, full-service firms and have ability to adapt to client needs, follow through on promises, and relate well with clients’ employees at any level.

Broad management consulting firm. Projects are typically more complex, expensive than other firms’. One of few capable of managing larger, more complex engagements. Revenue cycle expertise is a key strength highlighted by clients.

Navin, Haffty & Associates (NHA)
MEDITECH-focused firm; primarily does implementations but also performs well in advisory work. Most clients are community hospitals. Considered by some clients as more expensive than other MEDITECH consulting firms.

Core business and key strength has traditionally been deep Epic-implementation knowledge and experience. Has expanded advisory services in recent years, building significant trust among clients.

Optimum Healthcare IT
Core DNA is implementation and go-live support; newer to IT assessment and strategy work but has provided impressive results thus far by leveraging strong Epic expertise. Early feedback praises consultants’ knowledge level and understanding of unique needs.

Small firm that has demonstrated unique focus on helping clients gather business intelligence, execute strategic goals, and increase operational efficiency.

Major cross-industry consulting firm with broad capabilities. Praised for partnering attitude, knowledge, and creative problem-solving. Seen as expensive. Feedback on quality of resources and outcomes is mixed depending on the assigned resources.

Firm Landscape

Since all firms in this segment perform well overall, it is important for provider organizations to find the firm that matches their unique budget and other project needs. When organizations find a firm that fits, it can lead to beneficial partnerships rather than just one-off deliverables. The table below outlines details on each firm, including data on project costs, consultant scalability, project length, and project categories.

understanding firms capabilities and offerings
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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.