Loretta Gallagher on Large EMR Consultant Firms

As we continue to advance technologically, we develop and adapt to more efficient, cost effective, and superior methods of completing tasks. A great example is Electronic Medical Records (EMR), a digital collection of patient health information that can be shared across different healthcare providers. Although EMR is a helpful tool, implementing it can be an expensive and difficult task. In comes Loretta Gallagher, owner of Gallagher Associates in Wayne, New Jersey, who assists healthcare providers with the implementation of EMR practices, among many other services. In this blog, Gallagher shares her insight on the changing EMR market.

EMR Consulting Firms

In order to implement a new EMR system, healthcare providers often must hire consultants to build, train staff and assist in the creation of new practices to replace the old ones. Often these consultants occupy numerous roles and are only present at the healthcare organization for a few weeks to a few months.

Today’s EMR consulting market has become saturated with large firms. Instead of hiring local consultants or training staff and transforming them into EMR experts in their own work space, the hiring of large consulting firms has become the norm. Some healthcare organizations prefer large firms as they can provide more resources and consultants, which is helpful for larger healthcare organizations. These large firms employ individuals in various positions to ensure the successful implementation of EMR practices. These large firms offer Project Management, Build Analysts, Principal/Lead Trainers, Trainers, go-live support and any other position associated with an EMR implementation. To fill these positions, large firms cast wide nets on LinkedIn and other resume search engines.

Loretta Gallagher — paying a flat rate for expenses? Consider how often the consultants will be working remotely.

The Downside to Large Firms

Loretta Gallagher argues that there are some fundamental issues with the practices of large consulting firms. Not only do the individuals who are employed by large firms hop from company to company, contract to contract, but big firms are also all fishing in the same pond for resources. This forces firms to hire people who lack adequate experience to fill roles, thus healthcare organizations are paying top price for consultants who often learn on the job. Additionally, the high demand for EMR consultants means consultants are not building relationships with healthcare organizations. They are only focused on the goal of implementing EMR practices quickly, rather than providing long-term assistance.

Choosing Consultants

When deciding on an EMR consulting individual or firm, you must consider the expenses. Often you can find talented semi-local resources which will help cap some expenses compared to what large firms are charging. Expenses seem to have become a second source of revenue, with some consulting companies charging a flat weekly fee for expenses, regardless of what the actual expenses are. If you are paying a flat rate for expenses, consider how often the consultants will be working remote.

There are some great small firms that have years of experience and often are less expensive, notes Loretta Gallagher. With the change in the EMR market over the past few years, large firms are landing the hospital contracts and contracting out to the smaller firms for resources. This inflates the price of smaller firms, costing the client more. Hospitals could save a great deal of money working directly with the small firms, cutting out larger firms as the middle man.