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HIStalk Interviews William Bartholomew, Founder, HCTec

May 21, 2018 Interviews No Comments

William Bartholomew is the founder of HCTec of Brentwood, TN.

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Tell me about yourself and the company.

I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. When you grow up here, you get indoctrinated into two things, healthcare and country music. Unfortunately, I do not have any musical talent in my body, so I went the healthcare route.

A group of us founded HCTec in 2010. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a great group of partners and teammates who have built this business. Today, we’re nearly 1,000 employees spanning the country. We provide healthcare technology workforce solutions. We focus on EMR, ERP, and revenue cycle services, spanning implementation, optimization, and support as well as partial IT outsourcing with our application managed services capabilities.

What is your most requested service?

Without a doubt it has been our application managed services. As we’ve seen clients implement these large EMR systems, their challenge becomes the tension between supporting that system and advancing that system. We have built our service centers and capabilities around assisting clients, supporting their applications so they can focus on the work that’s needed to advance their application so they can drive their business into further digitalization.

The company earned recognition for freeing up the experts at Saint Luke’s Health System in Missouri to do strategic work while HCTec managed the front line support and other day-to-day work. Is that unusual?

It falls under that category of nothing new under the sun. It’s not a new concept, but the investment into these complex EMRs has been forced them to support these systems differently. In healthcare, our approach is unusual in that regard, but it is something that is being used across other industries. That is where we gained some of our lessons learned as we launched.

Debbie Gash, the CIO at Saint Luke’s, is on the cutting edge of a lot of initiatives. Part of the fun and passion I have about our business is getting to work with folks like her. They challenge you, they make you better, and we get to come up with meaningful solutions for her organization.

Does the shortage of Epic-certified consultants still exist?

Overall, yes. With the complexity of the system, the background that you need to have to be an effective consultant in the Epic space — or really any of the others, like Cerner, Meditech, you name it — there’s still a large shortage of that talent pool. Certainly not as limited as it has been in years past, but we still see a marked shortage of those resources.

Your website notes as a differentiator that all of your consultants, whether working onsite or from your offices, are US-based. Do customers find that appealing?

Yes, they do, without a doubt. With the complexities and the skill level you need to have a meaningful impact in these applications, it was to us was never feasible to even consider an offshore component.

Our first partner at HCTec was a company called HCCA International, now called Shearwater Health. These guys have been around since the 1970s. They provide critical staffing and support to hospitals across the US. Their resource base is nurses in the Philippines. They’re very, very good and adept at bringing in that talent pool to the US. It’s certainly a model that we’re very familiar with.

But as we contemplated how to help our clients with application support and be able to reduce their workforce operational expense around supporting a system while increasing their ability to advance the functionality, it just wasn’t viable to do that in an offshore component. There’s still a large resistance among our client base, too. Offshore, you think about the data security issues around that and worst-case scenarios. It made a lot more sense to launch it in the States. We do that work out of Atlanta, Georgia, and out of our office here in Nashville.

Are people still leaving provider jobs after implementing a vendor’s system and then going into consulting? Do they stay in the field, or do they find that it’s not what they thought it would be?

We’re still seeing a lot of it. There’s still a lot of “get through the implementation at my organization and go become a consultant.” There’s a premium paid for those who will travel and can offer their expertise to other clients.

The other trend that we’re seeing – which our application managed services addresses as well — is burnout on the application analyst team within our clients. You think about getting through these huge implementations and the work that they put in — the countless hours, the sleepless nights, all of those descriptors. You go through a go-live, which no matter how well or poorly they go, are always hectic. Then they’re thinking things are slowing down, but then find out that the work has just begun.

We see a lot of turnover within our clients’ analyst teams. That’s something that we incorporated into our model. When we’re working with a client on an application support deal, on average, we’ve seen their internal attrition rate drop significantly for a lot of them, from 15 to 20 percent to the low single digits once we start working with them and start taking on that day-to-day support work for them.

What does it take to keep consultants who travel happy and productive?

We’ve made it easy on them. We’ve invested in the systems, the structure, and the internal processes so that we handle most of the logistical items for them and try to make it easy and less stressful to travel on a weekly basis. All of our employees know that our job is to support them and they have that support system here backing them up.

Culturally, you see some bad stories on the other side, but we’ve tried to put an emphasis at HCTec on our people. At the end of the day, our consultants and our employees are what make this company great. We invest in all of our employees, and consultants in particular, to make sure that they have everything that they need. But they also have a great opportunity for career advancement and continuing education. They understand how much they’re valued, not only by our clients, but also by our team here at the corporate office. We’re always trying to improve what we do for our people. It’s a critical component to building a sustainable business in our industry.

Do you have any final thoughts?

It’s such an exciting time to be in healthcare technology. We’re in a very dynamic place as an industry and that challenge is something that we’ve been excited to embrace.

I’ve got two young kids and one on the way. When I think about what healthcare will look like as they grow up, it’s pretty fun to think about how different things will be five years from now, 10 years from now, as a continued investment in technology improves the way that we deliver care and the way that we receive care as patients.

Overall, we couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this journey and to have an impact on the advancement of care.

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