Even as hospitals are cutting jobs because of decreased MCR/MCD payments, larger MCD populations in those states that opted in to ACA and baby boomers turning 65; practices and facilities are looking to consultants help them chart their way through the next 5 years of uncertainty.
ICD 10 is the next big challenge for all of the healthcare business community. From Payers to clearing houses, EHRs to providers, coders to super bills; all components of the practice will be affected by the impact of ICD 10. Will pause a moment to allow that to truly sink in.
Consultant dollars must be wisely spent and the ROI needs to be clearly understood and expected. But how do you evaluate consultants to know you are getting the best consultant for your practice. There are a number of items a practice needs to consider when selecting a consultant. Some are obvious; some may not be so obvious but need to be considered.
- Price Competitiveness is an obvious consideration. Consultants pricing their services either too high or too low should be viewed with skepticism. Competitive pricing tells you that the consultant is in touch with competitors and industry.
- Effectiveness of the outsourcing Process is another consideration. What is the contracting process? Is it cumbersome and difficult? Is it fair? TH is process is generally a predictor of what it will be like to work with the consultant on a day to day basis. Pay attention!
- Account Management and governance Skills: The ability to effectively manage the project, both from a high level and a detail level is critical to the project’s success. How providers are included in that process and are managed is a specific ability that needs to be checked. This can be done by talking to other clients. Consultants should be skilled not only at the executive level, but at the physician level and staff level. All are affected by consultant work.
- Ability to Make Transformational Impact on Client Environment: This should be obvious but too often over-looked. The whole point of hiring a consultant is to transform attitudes, processes and procedures to bring success and self-reliance to a practice. If a consultant cannot affect that kind of change then they are merely going through motions of change. Change management, regardless of the specific project, is the chief function of a consultant.
- Technical Competency is another obvious skill. In this age of technology, the consultants knowledge and competency with technical aspects of the projects (and these days, all projects have technical components) is critical to success.
- Works Well Within the Ecosystem of Suppliers: Is the consultant familiar with your suppliers? Do they have a good relationship and reputation within the supplier community? Most projects will require some negotiations with suppliers at some level. The consultants abilities to negotiate and bring good results from that interchange is an important skill.
- Cultural Fit: There are large CPA firms and individuals who are in the varied mix of healthcare consultants. But your own culture and the consultant that best fits with your culture values should be seriously considered.
- Ability to Resolve Problems and Incidents: Interpersonal skills, wisdom, calmness. The ability to anticipate problems and work to resolve problems in a win/win manner should be a consultant’s goal. Most people resist change management; they feel threatened by it. A good consultant will manage that fear and expectations in a way that minimizes problems. But at the first sign of problems, a good consultant confronts and resolves with minimal fallout.
- Flexibility: The capability to give and take, work within the culture and tweak the plan to fit reality is a must. There is a difference between plowing ahead with change management “must do’s” and rigidity. Look for that difference.
Looking for a consultant? Want to ensure a successful engagement? Looking for real change in your organization that will result in better clinical outcomes, more successful business metrics and patient satisfaction? Carefully consider the above list in making your choice.