In today’s knowledge-based marketplace, technology and healthcare may be the most complex and ever-changing industries. To keep up with requirements for IT services, hospitals may find available resources and guidance scarce. What’s needed is a trusted IT consulting firm for hospitals to be a technology partner to guide healthcare systems through short- and long-term strategic plans. The ideal IT consultant should not only be knowledgeable across the IT ecosystem but also understand how emerging toolsets can be used in clinical workflows to better serve patients.
It’s an important and difficult task to pick the right partner for your IT initiatives. And it’s not an easy feat.
So how can hospitals identify top-performing, healthcare-savvy IT consulting firms in an industry brimming with hundreds of options? When evaluating a partner, here are some criteria to consider:
1. Look for IT Consulting that has Relevant and Demonstrates Experience
What have they done? Who have they done it for? What is their reputation in the industry?
Make sure you ask the tough questions, just as you would during a job interview. Ask for them to refer you to past clients. Understand what obstacles they faced in the past and how they overcame them.
Ask the firm about the team members on their bench. What type of experience and qualifications do those individuals have? Will your team and theirs have good chemistry? For your full-time employees, it can be intimidating to bring someone in who claims to know more than you or who claims to do the job better than you. Eliminate those feelings immediately with your team. Reassure them these consultants are complementary and that you are all working toward the same goal.
2. Accessibility and Communication
Are they truly committed to a partnership — answering questions, assessing, evaluating, advising, teaching? How often are they willing to meet to discuss project status?
Good communication is at the heart of every relationship. It is no different from a business partnership. More importantly, an effective consulting firm should be able to listen. Make sure they pay attention to your needs and provide constructive, honest opinions about how obstacles can be overcome. If they don’t listen during your first meeting, it’s a sign they won’t listen in the future.
Clear, concise communication should be happening between stakeholders and team members on a daily or weekly (or some predetermined) cadence. Establishing a routine will help eliminate any surprises down the road. The time and effort may seem overwhelming at first, but in the long run, you’ll appreciate the time and costs saved by avoiding potential obstacles. These discussions will also help build a culture of collaboration among teams, both internally and with your consultants.
3. IT Consulting with Flexibility of Response and Solutions
Does the IT consulting firm go for easy or precooked solutions? Or are they willing to listen to your ideas and come up with a multifaceted approach? When something doesn’t go as planned or there is an unexpected delay, how will your potential consultant handle the change?
Your evaluations should identify if the potential IT consulting firm has a methodology to ensure that teams can work on projects while also completing existing operational responsibilities. Preventing service disruptions means working with all teams — IT, business and clinical — to make sure there are limited risks and downtime.
Having an Agile-based approach to project management will ensure the flexibility needed in project execution. Incremental results are achieved through short-duration tasks, with frequent feedback and assessment. With opportunities for prompt reflection and correction, your projects will maintain a proper course. Roadblocks will be overcome along the way. And early warnings will help control costs and ensure consistent results.
4. Goal-Focused Alignment with Your Mission
Certainly, one of the most important considerations in finding IT consulting firms is goal alignment. Make sure you clearly explain your goals and how you measure success. If the firm can’t immediately demonstrate that they understand your goals, it’s an early sign of miscommunication. Although you may think you’re speaking the same language, explain your terminology to the consultant to make sure that there are no ambiguities about what you actually mean.
Be clear with your potential consultant about the scope of work and the business outcome you are expecting. Take time to discuss and define the results further when clarification is needed. Remember, as partners you should both be aiming to provide the best patient care through information technology.
5. Core Values in IT Consulting
Do the firm’s core values, work ethic and mission align with yours? Do they understand the need to balance both business and IT goals?
The question of values might seem a fuzzy concept, but don’t take this lightly. Make sure the candidate firms practice what they preach as you start to have your conversations. Look for red flags, such as:
- Unable to keep scheduled meetings
- No accountability for their actions with past clients
- Can’t provide current biographies for their team (including credentials)
- Don’t offer training or support throughout the lifecycle of the project
And a crucial question is: What’s their monetary interest in vendor selection? Be sure to ask what types of relationships they have with software and hardware vendors. Do they get commissions or referral fees? Instead, you want to ensure their recommendations will be truly objective, with your best interest at heart.
Ideally, the criteria cited above will stream into IT consulting to form a holistic strategy. Make sure your solution provider has proven experience in these areas. Look for a portfolio identifying their past and current projects as being consistent in growth-driven approaches. Look for evidence those approaches have helped the client organizations achieve all of their goals while streamlining operations across the board.
The best IT consulting firm for your new partnership will work with your team at all organizational levels. They will successfully meet or exceed all these criteria to enable crucial changes to help your hospital achieve all of its business goals while continually advancing the quality of patient care.
At T2 Tech Group, we advocate for our clients; approach each project with no bias; and practice the highest levels of integrity, experience and expertise. Contact us today at email@example.com to learn more about how we can help meet your goals.