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Monday Morning Update 2/10/14

February 8, 2014 News 16 Comments

2-8-2014 3-16-29 PM

From EpicConsulting: “Re: Epic going into the consulting business. What’s being said internally at Epic is that the program will be limited to employees with 4+ years of experience, it will provide some location independence, and the intention is to undercut in price most of the Epic consulting industry. It’s an attempt to give Epic employees less incentive to quit, sit out their one-year non-compete, and then come back doing the same job making twice the pay for half the hours. Epic has talked about doing this for years, formerly calling it Ongoing Services, but hasn’t actually gone this far until now. Consulting firm reaction has been, ‘Why would you want the same person who dug you into a hole to be the one to dig you out?’ but can they compete when Epic sells services at $75 per hour and they’re billing $150? Would a CIO pay double for a non-Epic voice? Will hospitals gain negotiating power with another option in the market? Fun question, too: will KLAS rate Epic’s consulting and will companies like Nordic, Sagacious, etc. score higher than Epic itself?” All unverified, but interesting.

From Please Please Me: “Re: HIStalkapalooza. I’ve never requested an invitation, so I’ve never been refused. But it sounds like fun and you guys are great to do that – don’t let the poor souls who don’t get in discourage you.” Inga reminded me that despite reader Gary’s insistence that he didn’t get an invitation for three years straight, we sent one to every single person who registered in 2013 and 2011, and I’m pretty sure we invited everyone in 2012 as well. Gary either didn’t register in time those years or his company’s spam filter trashed our emailed invitation, which happens a lot (and creates extra work for us because people always email us wanting individual assistance.) Demand this year was unprecedented – it will be the largest HIStalkapalooza yet, but around 900 more people asked for invitations than we have available. And to address the most commonly asked question, sorry, but we have no way to accommodate guests even though I’m sympathetic to those who want to attend with a spouse or friend – we’ve already had to turn away hundreds of loyal HIStalk readers.

2-8-2014 8-38-18 AM

Two-thirds of poll respondents haven’t been promoted in the last two years. New poll to your right: generally speaking, are the vendors and products named in the “Best in KLAS” report really the best ones? You won’t win favor for your position by simply clicking yes or no, but you might if you click the Comments link after voting to explain your rationale.

2-8-2014 9-02-48 AM

I mentioned that I decided to run an occasional ad at the top of the HIStalk page only so I can donate most of the proceeds to the DonorsChoose, which supports teachers whose classrooms need help buying books and supplies or paying for educational projects. I’m indifferent at best toward most charities (including hospitals) because they are inefficient, ineffective, and overly generous with executive compensation, but years ago my research led me to DonorsChoose and it has become (along with the Salvation Army) my charity of choice. I’ll be funding the first projects this week and updating the HIStalk giving page so we as readers and sponsors can feel good about the results – you’ll be able to see project details, status, photos, and the teacher’s letter of thanks and description of the outcome. I’m really excited about this. You are making it possible by reading HIStalk, for which I am grateful.

Listening: Blondfire, a Michigan-based dreamy indie pop brother-and-sister band that has new album coming out Tuesday.

2-8-2014 2-08-04 PM

Welcome to new HIStalk Gold Sponsor MEA | NEA of Norcross, GA. The company’s cloud-based solutions allow health plans and providers (both medical and dental) to electronically request and deliver images and documents that would previously have been printed and mailed. FastAttach improves revenue cycle management by allowing providers to submit documents to support their electronic medical claims via a Windows-based application that’s compatible with all practice management and revenue cycle systems. FastAttach also allows providers to quickly and securely respond to RAC and other audits through the company’s participation in Medicare’s Electronic Submission of Medical Documentation program (esMD) using the CONNECT gateway to send scanned images, print capture, screen capture, uploads, files, and mobile capture. Thanks to MEA |NEA for supporting HIStalk.


HIMSS Conference Social Events

Send us your event details if it’s a good one (i.e., free food and drinks at minimum) and you promise that all HIStalk readers are welcome to attend, even if they work for your most hated competitor as a given reader might well do.

2-8-2014 10-36-25 AM

Nordic is sponsoring an open house at King’s Bowl Orlando, International Drive, Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. Email to sign up.


Upcoming Webinars

February 12 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Healthcare CO-OPs and Their Potential to Reduce Costs. Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenters: David Napoli, director of performance improvement and strategic analytics, Colorado HealthOP and Richard Schultz, VP of clinical care integration, Kentucky Health Cooperative. Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs) were established by the Affordable Care Act as nonprofit health insurance companies designed to compete in the individual and small group markets. Their intended impact was to provide more insurance options for consumers to pay for healthcare.

February 13 (Thursday), 12 noon ET. Advancement in Clinician Efficiency Through Aware Computing. Sponsored by Aventura. In an age of information overload, a computing system that is aware of the user’s needs becomes increasingly critical. Instant-on roaming for virtual and mobile applications powered by awareness provides practical ways to unleash value from current HIT investments, advancing efforts to demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs and improve clinical efficiencies. The presenters will review implementation of Aventura’s solution at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center.

February 18 (Tuesday), 1:00 p.m. ET. Epic 2012 Training and Support: Building Your Team. Sponsored by MBA HealthGroup. The webinar will present a case study of creative staffing solutions for an Epic 2012 upgrade at an academic medical center, describing the institution’s challenge, its out-of-the-box solution, and the results it obtained working with a consulting firm.


REST and FHIR

I’m hearing buzz about REST and FHIR Web-based programming coming from various vendors and from ONC. It sounds important for future healthcare IT development and interoperability, so I decided to look up the concepts since I don’t know anything about them. This is my cartoonish, stick-figure understanding that certainly could use more informed (but simple) explanation from knowledgeable readers about what it means in healthcare and who’s using it.

REST (representational state transfer) is the architecture that runs the Internet, where your browser sits there waiting for you to enter data or click a button and then something cool happens. Applications developed using RESTful programming respect the fact that the Internet works perfectly fine without individual programmers screwing around with tricky or proprietary techniques. Your browser knows how to process your Amazon order even though you don’t know or care how Amazon’s servers are set up, the Firefox people didn’t customize their browser to work with Amazon.com, and Amazon didn’t develop its site so that it only works with Firefox. REST-built systems can interact with each other with minimal overhead. It’s pretty much the opposite of how most healthcare applications were built, in other words, since it presumes that all boats are equally floated when applications work and communicate in a common way using existing infrastructure and methods, making life easier for programmers and users alike.

FHIR (fast healthcare interoperability resources, pronounced “fire”) is an HL7 framework that further defines REST for specific building blocks for developing healthcare applications. Applications developed using FHIR are theoretically easier to develop and support, are inherently interoperable, and follow Web standards.

I’m not as interested in the technical underpinnings as the possible benefits. REST and FHIR concepts are new to healthcare IT and probably aren’t ready for prime time. I can understand why vendors would be cautious about chasing trendy standards that not only threaten their proprietary existence but also could go out of fashion faster than the Harlem Shake, but it’s still an interesting design that could make life better for everyone (including patients and providers) if everybody used it.

This is the cue for an reader who is unbiased, technical enough to understand what all this means strategically, and blessed with the ability to describe it simply (but not simplistically) to enlighten the rest of us who just want stuff to work.


iHealth 2014 Report

2-8-2014 9-07-37 AM
2-8-2014 9-06-52 AM

The only conference I attend regularly is HIMSS for a variety of reasons  — cost, time required, and often because I don’t even know when or where a given conference is being held with enough lead time to plan. I always invite readers to provide a summary of their experiences.

Here’s ADG’s writeup of AMIA’s iHealth conference:

iHealth 2014 was a good excuse to get away from the cold and snow of wherever you were and come to Orlando for some warm rain. Farzad Mostashari in particular was seen immediately after the PBS-style fireside chat of the four previous national coordinators without a bowtie and in the company of a couple of cute kids. Getting the four on the same stage was a logistics coup and they were immensely personable. The two with the initials “DB” — David Brailer and David Blumenthal — cheerfully referred to each other as DB1 and DB2. Their themes included the coming penalties for non-compliance with MU, and DB1’s very sharp insights, which included the observation that he expects FDA regulation of EMRs within “single digit” years. Their advice to the current ONC coordinator Karen DiSalvo seemed to be a version of “buckle up.” DB1 in particular was praised by the others for his sharp organizational and entrepreneurial skills in getting the office started on the right foot.

We came to Orlando to get practical advice (and to get out of the cold, see above) and there is some comfort that all are struggling — large and less-large, academic and less-academic — with rapid change. Most noticeable was a sharp divide between the academics and the operational types, with the academics suggesting that if you do the right things, the “regulators will catch up,” which is an actual quote. The operational types knew that regulators will deny payment for any failure to cross the T and dot the i and that their organization would be out of business for lack of money by the time the regulators “caught up” to the “right thing.” There was a terrific dinner hosted by AMIA for recent diplomates of the board of Clinical Informatics, and we discovered we all have frighteningly similar backgrounds and tastes. Blackford Middleton, chair of the board of directors of AMIA, gave an excellent short toast. There were no grand insights, but lots of one-on-one incremental gains from each other, and HIStalk was mentioned at least a couple of times from the stage(s).


2-8-2014 9-54-04 AM

Jim Hansen of Lumeris / Accountable Delivery System Institute knows I like what we call “Judy-isms,” little nuggets of cynical wisdom from Epic’s Judy Faulkner. He culled these from last week’s HIT Policy Committee meeting:

  • “Be careful about prescriptive standards. If there was a usability committee for the iPhone, there wouldn’t be one.”
  • “We see a huge international move to EHRs without incentive money. We can’t test it here, but would it have happened anyway?”
  • “With regard to Meaningful Use and providers saying, “I paid for an EHR, therefore you as the government owe me,” I think of girls on dates and I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

2-8-2014 2-33-17 PM

Brian Ahier provides the full text of the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act that proposes to move the Meaningful Use program into the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System.

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From athenahealth’s Friday earnings call:

  • Jonathan Bush talked up athenaCoordinator for Enterprise, “our first truly hospital-facing service” that will tie together the company’s services for pre-certification, pre-registration, scheduling, and population health management. It will cost hospitals 1 percent of revenue.
  • “The on-ramp that is turning out to be Epocrates” will be enhanced to include secure text messaging, a provider director, and clinical decision support tools and the rollout of Epocrates Prime that will allow non-physician secure messaging participants and referral capability.
  • New company locations include Austin, Atlanta, and San Francisco.
  • Sales to small hospitals, the only underperforming area, will be better supported by teams that include operational analysts rather than just a single salesperson.
  • Bush, responding to an analyst’s question about how cost-shifting to patients will affect the company, said, “As long as they don’t become uninsured self-payers and they keep their financial selves tangled up in impossible-to-understand bureaucratic health plans, which is now the law of the land, it doesn’t hurt us.”
  • Bush says the company may need to create a patient-facing division because patient portal use is low industry-wide.
  • In describing the company’s patient engagement efforts, “The goal is to just do everything possible for the doctor over the cloud, to the patient, at home where they get better answers to clinical questions. Like tell me about your diet and your life and all the things you need to know for the doctor, all your smoking, your seatbelts, your sex life. All those things are much easier to talk about at home or in private than sitting in the freaking waiting room, or worse, on that butcher paper with your knickers off. So we’re going to use the social good created by all of our increasingly sophisticated patient outreach to be way better than we are.”
  • Enterprise Coordinator will include the patient facesheet from athenaClinicals and clicking on the patient’s name, even by a practice that doesn’t use athenahealth, will launch a session of the hospital’s EHR.
  • Bush described the company’s future strategy as, “The goal here is to get into the front door and the back door of the hospital and work our way through the wards and departments with cloud-based services that allow them to virtualize, get business from more places, and focus more of their resources on actual clinical care. Other places we need to go is we need to go to patients. So every patient in America needs to have something in their wallet and something on their wrist, some sort of 2D barcode or in their iPhone that says, ‘This is me. Zap this thing and pull me up on athenaNet if I’m unconscious.’ So that’s some sort of patient outreach. I don’t know if it’s a partnership with the big dogs out in California, the Facebook or whatever — maybe I have to meet the Zuck, who knows. And then the other one is to get into the finance side. So health plans have been largely kind of strapped down and held still by regulation. They can’t be responsive to their customers. They need new ways of underwriting healthcare and a partner that could bring a claimless healthcare network where nobody sends a claim or receives a claim. All of this is instantaneous intelligence built into the wire. That should be us.”
  • In summarizing 2013, Bush said, “That wraps up a fantastic year. And over the last few days, we have given out beautiful crystal things, checks, and stock options. And if that wasn’t enough, we gave a few people hangovers so that they knew that what they had done in 2013 and then we took all their needles and returned them to 0. And we noticed last night that you all got excited about how the year went and the stock went up. And we want you to know that we have turned our needles with you to 0. We have a very long way to go and it is only to us about how we journey. There will be a healthcare Internet and we will be the ones who have created it. ”

Speaking of athenahealth, ATHN shares jumped 25 percent on Friday, the second-largest percentage gain on the Nasdaq, after Thursday’s earnings announcement, valuing the company at $6.5 billion. A $10,000 investment five years ago would be worth $52,000 today.

CMS extends the deadline for EPs to attest for MU 2013 by a month to March 31, 2014.

2-8-2014 3-50-08 PM

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announces that several drug chains have pledged to support or expand their use of the Blue Button initiative to allow patients to access their prescription information: Walgreens, Kroger, CVS Caremark, Rite Aid, and Safeway. Walgreens, always the technology leader in retail pharmacy and arguably in healthcare, says it will adopt BlueButton+ guidelines to allow customers to share their data and use third-party health applications.

2-8-2014 4-14-28 PM

The Federal Trade Commission approves a settlement with IP-based video camera vendor TRENDnet over a software vulnerability that allowed anyone to view a camera’s live feed over the Internet without a password. One marketed use of the secure video systems is monitoring hospitalized patients.

In England, a privacy group criticizes West Suffolk Hospital after it reports 20 documented breaches since 2010, including seven in 2013. All of breaches last year involved paper records that were filed or mailed incorrectly.

Weird News Andy includes an actor’s name pun in titling this story, “He’s a Lauriette.” A German doctor diagnoses a patient’s cobalt poisoning caused by a broken artificial hip after recognizing its symptoms from an episode of the TV series “House.” The doctor says he’s not thrilled at being called “the German Dr. House” since he finds rude behavior unacceptable, but concedes, “It’s important to be nice, but you don’t get patients healthy just by being nice.”


Sponsor Updates

2-8-2014 3-14-17 PM

  • Clinical Architecture announces Symedical for the iPad, which provides mobile access to map administration.
  • John Gomez of JGo Labs is working with investment bankers interested in investing in healthcare IT companies with $5 million to $30 million EBIDTA, a proven business model, and good revenue growth. He’ll be available to meet with interested companies at HIMSS. 

Contacts

Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis, Lorre.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

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16 Responses to “Monday Morning Update 2/10/14”

  1. 1
    HITPundit Says:

    As rumors may have started, Epic will not be the first or the last to say that they are going into the consulting business. GE/IDX , Cerner and Siemens all have professional services teams. What the market has to do is differentiate the services of installs and true consulting. Having dealt through the years with all of the above vendors, their consulting teams are never been more than the extensions of their implementation business. What clients find out is that the A players are so called consultants, and the B players do the installs. The clients then get upset that they are not getting the A players, the vendors moves them over to assist with the project, and the so called consultants are back doing installs. The market is full of staffing firms that just provide warm bodies with no depth of experience and the vendors have always tried to balance the consulting versus what the clients is paying for in the first place, a good install and great support. So is Epic willing to reduce it’s license fees because they want their clients to pay more for a consultant to tell them how to do the install better?

    If I were Epic, I would look back at history of vendors and their ‘consulting’ services and ask the question, what value beyond the install is our on average employee experience of 4 years capable of providing a complex client.

  2. 2
    Redacted Says:

    I know internally Epic has been struggling with retention (regardless of what their ‘non-existent’ PR machine is pushing out). When I left Epic, during my exit interview they asked me why I was leaving. I told them that once I waited through my non-compete I would be making twice as much money, for fewer hours, and I’d be able to live wherever I wanted to. I asked them if they saw any reason why I should ignore these very rational incentives, and they couldn’t come up with a thing.

    This is clearly a problem for them. The group of people who would not benefit from leaving Epic in a material and work/life balance is extremely small. It honestly amazes me that they do not have more of a problem with this. If you have been at Epic for over a year and a half and you aren’t at the very top of the company, you are losing money. Period. This is the crux of the problem. Epic prides themselves on hiring smart people, and as a result they have a workforce that is intelligent enough to realize a good deal when they see one.

    There are many ways that they could have tackled this problem. Increasing wages to be more competitive is the obvious one. More PTO (You begin at 10 days, many consulting firms start at 20-30) and other fringe benefits would help as well. Instead, they create a new Epic elite services division. I’m not sure what they were thinking when they made this decision, but prima facie it seems insanely stupid to me for a number of reasons:

    1. They are offering these roles to folks who have been at Epic for 4+ years. These people are usually TLs, AMs, CASOs, ASOs, IC/IM, etc. They have real customer-facing and internal responsibilities that are important to Epic’s success. So Epic is going to pull these folks off their day work to… build SmartTexts? Because a lot of what Epic consultants do is strictly build. Seems a bit under their pay grade.

    2. It continues to deteriorate the Epic/Epic consulting firm relationship. What should be symbiotic is completely antagonistic. News flash Epic: Your customers call in the Calvary because YOU DON’T USUALLY DO IT RIGHT ON THE FIRST PASS. If a customer is struggling with revenue post-live, as of now they have two options. 1) Continue smashing your head against the wall with your analyst team or 2) hire a consulting firm with the expertise to make the system work. With as much as Epic does to try and force the consultants out of the industry, it seems like they feel like customers should be stuck with the first option. Since Judy preaches about customers being the #1 priority all the time, I’d think her end goal would be to have the customer to be as successful as possible. A consulting firm coming in and cleaning up build/processes makes Epic look better. I can’t believe this is something that they have not internalized yet.

    Epic needs to embrace the current revolving door of employees, or they need to attack the root causes for departure. Instead of making themselves more attractive to their current employees, however, they are trying to undercut an industry that is a huge factor in continuing their success. Has anyone seen an installation without consultants? It shows a complete lack of business acumen that I really wouldn’t have expected from them.

  3. 3
    Disgruntled Says:

    Redacted, you seem disgruntled a tad bit.

    Most consultants in the industry do exactly what you assert they don’t – the do implementation. That’s what they do. Many of them are ex-Some Vendor or Another.

    Does being let go, pushed out, leaving on mutual terms or quitting a vendor outright somehow make you a better find in the consulting ranks?

    My gosh – The era of easy consulting money is coming to an end as the MU implementations dry up. Good luck making your way in that world.

    So many of you guys are too young to remember what happened after Year 2k when firm after firm did layoffs, cut staff, sold themselves at garage sale prices and disappeared.

    And, customers generally don’t call in the Calvary because Epic messed up. They call in help because they struggle to keep their own staff – often because consulting firms are preying on them so they can sell them to the guy down the street to do – guest what – installs.

    Get a grip.

  4. 4
    Redacted Says:

    Hi Disgruntled!

    You are not incorrect. Many consultants do implementation. This does not detract from my point. Do you want to play word games? Can you please differentiate between ‘implementation’ and build? And then go the next step and explain why we should have 4+ year tenured Epic employees doing this stuff?

    I’d try to argue directly to your points but they make no sense. You should try to be less transparent with your ‘rah rah’ Epic nonsense. Instead of trying to patronize me with the ‘Oh before your time’ BS, acknowledge that the business model that Epic had adopted is antiquated and as a result they are left playing catchup.

    You made zero substantive points, outside of your ridiculous suggestion that health systems only bring consultants on when they cannot keep their own staff. Have you ever worked on an Epic install? I’d be really interested to hear which customer you worked with, and then please fall over yourself generalizing that one customer to the entire Epic customer base.

    I get that you’re feeling the pinch, but don’t worry, this whole ‘elite services’ thing is just a precursor to Epic moving all of IS to ‘ongoing services’ after implementations dry up. Or did you really think that Epic would somehow stand tall while the entire industry they spawned collapsed?

    Get a grip? The good consulting firms don’t want hospital IT staff. Welcome to the real world.

  5. 5
    Fourth Hanson Brother Says:

    Implementation money may be drying up, but fixing implementations will be huge as many customers are starting to realize that they aren’t even close to good, and that Epic numbers on long term support have been lowballed. MU stages will continue, and with Epic, they will still have many years of huge upgrades. Customers that go Epic are often shoved at their upgrades, compared to their deadass previous vendors cash cowing an old system.

  6. 6
    Re: Epic getting into consulting Says:

    “…the program will be limited to employees with 4+ years of experience…”

    All 10 of them?

  7. 7
    Petey Says:

    I’m curious if this effort on Epic’s part can truly stem the turnover tide. I can see the appeal for staff if they can avoid having to bridge the non-compete year before starting. However, I’m curious if Epic will be able to match up to the fewer hours and greater pay seen by most consultants at present.

    The post mentioned $75 an hour billed to clients. When I start doing the math on healthcare, employment tax, etc, does that leave enough room to offer a salary that will prevent people from leaving to go to third party firms? They can’t apply downward price pressure on the industry if they can’t keep the staff to fill the roles. Plus I wonder how many of the other factors of turnover would still be at issue. I’ve read blogs talking about the management structure, review policy, and other factors being at play in the turnover at Epic. Not to mention, I imagine that the culture of high hours worked wouldn’t change overnight.

    Overall I think the move is inevitable though. As mentioned above once the implementations slow down the upgrades and maintenance will be the most likely location where former implementation staff will be focused. I’m more interested in how long this transition will take and when staffing at hospitals will begin to stabilize. I have to say that for every person post-live that leaves for consulting I usually see just as many go back to nursing or leave for unrelated work due to burn out. To my mind that’s had as much of an impact on staffing as anything else. Especially since outside of the more mature Epic client markets the staff hired to replace anyone leaving are frequently starting from being uncertified at present.

  8. 8
    Lazlo Hollyfeld Says:

    Epic simply realizes that the MU dollar wave has already crested and is breaking. The next piece of the pie for vendors to grab is the consulting and outsourcing pieces. Need to learn more about what types of consulting services that Epic will plan to offer beyond implementation and optimization services too but this has little/nothing to do with improving/retaining employees.

    It is about Epic gobbling their piece of the consulting pie as software sales dry up in the US & it moves to more of a much lower maintenance and support market.

    Still baffles me how year non-competes are viewed as a positive thing though for all Epic employees though. Become increasing common even below the manager-level in a number of white collar industries too in the US. So basically employers not only want at-will employees who don’t have collective bargaining rights but also face a difficult decision on leaving potentially due to a non-compete that is at least a year and possibly longer. Employers want their cake and to eat it too.

  9. 9
    Fourth Hanson Brother Says:

    Part of the problem is that there are people at Epic that aren’t implementation- most of the company in fact, and these are the folks that are often more useful to a customer post go live. However, most customers have had very little contact with the Epic “real” people. Most of Epics implementation folks are hired for people skills, given the nastiness of dealing with most Customer IT departments and internal culture.

  10. 10
    Ms Spellcheck Says:

    Redacted/Disgruntled:

    It’s cavalry, not Calvary

  11. 11
    Exhausted Says:

    Epic currently “charges” a higher hourly rate for their sr staff members on go-lives and support models than $75 an hour, higher than consulting firms $150/hr even back when I worked there. Its invisible in their maintenance costs but if you go over maintenance hours it will cost you money.

  12. 12
    Asada Burrito Says:

    @Exhausted is on the money. I feel like this is just an excuse to fly Epic staff out to sites more often than never, because implementation is drying up and those bi-weekly or monthly visits aren’t really needed.

    Instead of flying out people with experience, Epic should just charge a monthly per user subscription fee to a view only version of Guru without any PHI in other institution’s SLG’s or damning internal notes.

    You also have the convenience of keeping the third party to blame if things fail.

  13. 13
    Tough to Make it Work... Says:

    Is Epic really going to charge $75 an hour for consultants? That’s less than the new hire who has been there for 2 months is billing by a significant margin. Epic can probably afford the revenue hit in the short term as high as their profit margin is but what’s the long game? Force a few companies out of the market and then raise rates in a few years when the financial model no longer works out? What outside expertise will Epic consultants be able to offer? The value of a good consultant is that they have been to different clients, worked with different systems and can say why what worked very well at client x won’t work at client y. Epic hires smart people but with the corporate culture (it’s Judy’s way or the highway) I’d be hesitant to sign a contract for any high value work as I’d get someone with only one perspective (Epic’s).

    If by consultant Epic is talking about providing staff augmentation services then I would be much more likely to use them as vendor staff should theoretically know their system better than anyone else. I doubt this will be what happens though as I don’t see employees with 4+ years wanting to fill vacant positions at clients.

  14. 14
    Former Epic Says:

    I don’t see how Epic is going to be able to do the consulting thing and compete with the already established consulting firms. There are two problems I see

    1. Your typical consultant makes 1.5-2 times what an Epic employee makes, only with about 25% less hours (typical consultant work week is 40 hours, while Epic employees are 50-55 hours on average). Why would someone who has been at Epic 4+ years, who undoubtedly has a lot of money saved up and could “take a year off”, work for less pay, a weirder corporate structure and more hours? You just know that the Epic consultants will not be able to work a 40 hour week. Since Judy’s mantra is “drop everything when a customer has any slight problem”, the Epic consultants will be working more than 40 hours a week.

    2. If, by some miracle, Epic consultants work the normal consultant 40-hour week, then the employees with less than 4 years experience will be rather peeved. Why should they put in 55 hour weeks to get paid half of what they would make consulting? That will just increase turnover even more.

    Epic is doing this either to undercut consulting firms or retain employees. If Epic wants to decrease turnover, either increase pay or increase the work-life balance. Since Judy doesn’t know the meaning of “work-life balance”, this is unlikely to happen. If Epic wants to undercut consulting firms, then they are going to have to either be a lot cheaper or hire experienced consultants who have been doing post-live work with customers. The common complaint about Epic staff is their lack of real world experience. And if they truly want to undercut consulting firms, then so much for “do good”.

  15. 15
    Also Ex-Epic Says:

    Interesting commentary. Don’t overlook that many Epic people enjoy working there even though they may suffer from burnout. Often times experienced implementers are on the road non-stop dealing with many different customers. Many of them would be glad to stay at home most of the time (in Madison or elsewhere) and still like the Epic company and culture, even if there may be a few more dollars somewhere else. I suspect this program is not for people who want top dollar but rather for people who like Epic and want to stay but don’t 100% like their current duties.

    I believe that Epic will struggle to cut ties (in terms of responsibilities) for employees transitioning to consulting and will struggle to allow them reduced hours.

    Fourth Hanson Brother, I’m not sure it’s fair to say that non-IS people are more valuable to customers or any more ‘real’. It’s certainly debatable.

  16. 16
    Hello Panda Says:

    It sounds to me like epic is looking to expand their revenue lines and consulting is a great way to do it. I agree with everyone on the $75 an hour. That doesn’t seem reasonable. I would think that they would be in the $100 to $125 range, which may still force the after-market consulting firms to come down a little in price.

    The move doesn’t come without significant risk. epic has been successful with their core offering and moving out of that “sweet spot” can be a slippery slope. They will likely take a few more lumps when their consultants screw up and they may loose a bit of their consultant-love when they begin competing with those consultants.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I suspect we will hear about more epic offerings int he near future.

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Reader Comments

  • Stephen McCallister: It's hard to say that security is being taken seriously when so many of the cases still involve the loss of unencrypted ...
  • pattycake: Well said Darren....
  • NoHorseInThisRace: I just cut my finger on a package of cream cheese. I assume there's an ICD-10 code for that?...
  • Dave Brown: I think you meant 'nunca mas' but congratulations none the less....
  • HITPundit: If a vendor like Epic can not share records between their own software then we have bigger problems then interoperabilit...

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