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Technical Services 2020 Technical Services 2020
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Technical Services 2020
A Tip-of-the-Spear Look at a Growing Market

author - Ryan Oliver
Author
Ryan Oliver
 
April 23, 2020 | Read Time: 8  minutes

Current Time Inside Cache Tag Helper: 10/2/2022 1:37:30 AM and Model.reportId = 1309

Say what you want about meaningful use, but its success in spurring EMR adoption is hardly debatable. A wealth of healthcare data has now been captured electronically, but if it is to optimize patient care and provider collaboration, it must be available in a useful, accessible format. A broad range of technical skills are needed to convert data and integrate clinical applications, analytics tools, and other platforms. For help in this area, many provider organizations turn to the technical expertise of services firms. This report—focused on an initial subset of these firms (see below)—examines performance and capabilities in a market that sees high satisfaction overall.

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WHAT ARE TECHNICAL SERVICES?

Technical services engagements involve the implementation and management of infrastructure and applications. The hands-on, technical nature of these engagements typically does not require clinical, financial, or management skills. Engagements are project based and time bound in pursuit of a defined goal. They are sometimes, but not always, supplemental to some other, larger initiative, such as a wholesale EMR implementation or upgrade. Thus, projects are typically managed by the client organization or other consultants who have been hired to lead. When selecting a technical services firm, provider organizations often look to firms with whom they have a preexisting relationship.

types of technical services

WHICH FIRMS ARE MEASURED IN THIS REPORT?

KLAS has been gathering client feedback on the technical services market for many years. However, this measurement has typically included only firms that also offer services in other areas KLAS tracks, meaning some prominent players are currently absent from the data. This report—KLAS’ first dedicated to technical services—is an effort to share what we currently know and represents a commitment to expand our research efforts in this area going forward.

Most of the firms measured in this report provide technical services as an ancillary offering for clients who have already engaged them for core competencies, such as implementation and advisory services. A few firms offer technical services as a core offering, often focusing on specific technologies or vendors.

other firms
competencies of firms measured in this report

WHO DOES WHAT (AND FOR WHO)?

Galen Healthcare and 314e Validated with Broadest Range; NHA Most Targeted

The services firms measured in this report span a spectrum in terms of how many IT vendors/platforms the firms have experience with and the specific technical tasks the firms complete. Galen Healthcare was validated as working with both large and small health systems, as providing services for seven different EMR platforms (plus several non-EMR solutions), and as working with the most clinics. Interviewed 314e clients validate that the firm has experience with the four major EMR vendors (Allscripts, Cerner, Epic, and MEDITECH), and multiple clients say their engagement involved all seven types of technical services measured in this report. Navin, Haffty & Associates (NHA) is the most focused firm, specializing in MEDITECH EMRs and doing mostly supplemental report writing.

breadth of firms
breadth of validated it platforms and client typesbreadth of technical services

WHICH FIRMS DELIVER MOST CONSISTENTLY?

J2 Interactive and NHA Most Consistent at Satisfying Clients; Atos Reviews Mixed as Several Clients Report Significant Misses 

Most of the firms in this research deliver very well—8 of the 10 have an overall KLAS performance score above 90 (out of 100)—and all firms have a number of very happy clients. J2 Interactive and NHA are the most consistent. No J2 Interactive clients rate their firm below 90, and only one NHA client did so. However, not all firms consistently deliver a stellar experience. Two of the clients in Atos’ limited sample report very poor experiences, due mostly to overpromising and support disruption related to some Atos acquisitions.

overall score variation

WHAT KEY FACTORS DRIVE SATISFACTION?

In KLAS’ analysis, four key metrics stand out as having the most impact on a firm’s overall performance: (1) quality of staff, (2) relationships/partnership, (3) value, and (4) engagement execution. The first three are examined below. Details on all four can be found in the full report.

Prominence’s Staff “Blows Others’ Away”; Atos Reviews Mixed

Technical services are a labor-driven market, so clients’ quality of staff ratings align closely with their overall perceptions of an engagement’s success or failure. When describing their firm’s quality of service, organizations mention things like expertise, professionalism, and responsiveness. Most firms rate high in this area, though Prominence receives the most consistently positive feedback from their limited sample of seven clients—all but one client gave a 9 (out of 9), citing deep Epic expertise and consultants who work well with internal staff. J2 Interactive and NHA are highlighted for their proficiency with InterSystems and MEDITECH, respectively. Multiple clients prize S&P Consultants’ staff for unique skills gained from long experience with laboratory systems. Two of the six interviewed Atos clients report frustration, one regarding acquisition-related disruption and another regarding lack of skills.

Executive involvement is one of many aspects that contribute to long-term, satisfying, and successful client/firm relationships. While acknowledging that many engagements are short-term projects centered on in-the-trenches resources, organizations appreciate when executives reach out. The firms most often noted for proactive executive involvement are J2 Interactive, Prominence, Galen Healthcare, and Pivot Point Consulting.

executive involvement vs quality of staff

NHA, J2 Interactive, Galen Healthcare, and 314e Best at Balancing Price & Performance 

Technical services engagements are often limited in scope, and thus, clients may not expect transformative outcomes. Still, they are interested in getting the best value for their money, and high performance does not always guarantee high value. Most firms avoid nickel-and-diming, and many are praised for keeping at or below a project’s budget. Particular highlights include NHA, who provides solutions that help clients streamline costly manual processes, and J2 Interactive, whose clients feel their firm views money as less important than client success. Galen Healthcare is willing to work with clients to achieve affordable contracts, and 314e clients often feel the firm has under-charged them for what they receive.

overall score vs value score

FIRM SNAPSHOTS

314e: Healthcare-specific IT consulting firm. Provides broad range of technical and implementation services to mix of large and small health systems (more than half of which use Epic). Clients who utilize them for Epic-related staffing projects report high satisfaction. Also validated in post–acute care and payer organizations. Consistent high performer whose staff is described as knowledgeable, professional. Not seen as highly innovative or strategic. Viewed as pricey but worth the cost.

Atos: Cross-industry firm with broad offerings (in both technical services and other areas). Entered US healthcare mainly through acquisitions, leading to somewhat siloed offerings. Report’s limited client sample is skewed toward small health systems; validated work is limited to certain project types (KLAS will focus future research on additional technical services). Highlighted for account management, relationships, and strategic guidance. Lowest overall score and largest satisfaction variation—some clients very happy; others very unhappy, reporting organizational change has led to less responsiveness.

Engage: Originated as part of a health system. MEDITECH READY-Certified partner with broad offering, including MEDITECH implementations, hosting, and help-desk services. Validated technical services centered mainly on data migration and database development for MEDITECH clients, many of whom are small standalone rural hospitals in Midwest/Western US. Also engaged for ongoing IT outsourcing. Considered a strong partner; proactive with guidance and relationship building. Staff viewed as knowledgeable. Some clients express concern with lack of billing clarity.

ettain health: Acquired Leidos’ commercial EHR consulting business in 2019, adding advisory, implementation, and outsourcing services to traditional staffing services. Now provides broad range of EHR services, including advisory, implementation, optimization and application management services for a large number of Cerner clients (some Allscripts, Epic, MEDITECH as well). Engaged for wide variety of technical services; clients in this report are mainly Allscripts, Cerner, MEDITECH customers. Seen as reliable partner with expert staff; good at managing expenses. Mixed feedback regarding timeliness.

Galen Healthcare: Works with both large and small health systems; only firm in report with sizable number of clinics in their sample. Provides implementation services and SaaS-based data archiving for clients changing IT systems; also provides broad technical services with strong focus on data migration and interfacing. Is the 2020 Best in KLAS Category Leader for HIT Implementation Leadership (small). Has large pool of highly skilled staff and is known for good client relationships.

J2 Interactive: Works primarily with large health systems, HIEs, and payers. Valued specialist for InterSystems clients, providing systems integration, interface engine migration, and application deployment/development. Firm’s leadership is strongly engaged, and J2 is good at educating client staff. Avoids unexpected charges and seen as offering competitive pricing. Lacking in project management at times. Expanding services to include Epic work.

Navin, Haffty & Associates (NHA): Largest firm for MEDITECH-related services, including implementations, strategic services, optimization, and technical services; often used for report writing and database development. Consistent high performer across interviewed clients; does not let clients fall through the cracks; said to deliver high value. Cost viewed as significant for small rural hospitals.

Pivot Point Consulting: 2020 Best in KLAS Overall IT Services Firm. Frequently engaged for IT advisory and implementation work; beginning to offer application management services. Many clients are large health systems on Epic; some Cerner clients as well. Offers broad set of technical services, though used most often for data migration and database development. Overall technical services performance is moderate. Executives are highly regarded. Some clients report concerns about staff qualifications. Could more proactively address clients’ higher-level goals.

Prominence: Sought out for Epic and analytics expertise. Pairs analytics background with the technical capability to leverage Epic data in BI solutions that help clients increase operational efficiency, improve patient care, and support other initiatives. Most engagements in report are Epic customers seeking analytics help, leading to database development, interfaces/integration, and data migration projects. All respondents rate overall satisfaction as 9 (out of 9); quickly resolves the rare staff challenge. One customer notes that project management is sometimes lacking.

S&P Consultants: Used by both large and small health systems. Strong focus on Cerner implementations, system optimization, and laboratory solutions (only firm with a commercial laboratory client in this research). KLAS validated wide range of technical services, chiefly data migration, database development, and interfacing. Resources viewed as strong communicators, experienced, and having the required skills, knowledge. Some clients’ consultants lacked expertise but were quickly replaced.

author - Elizabeth Pew
Writer
Elizabeth Pew
author - Jess Wallace-Simpson
Designer
Jess Wallace-Simpson
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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. © 2022 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.