5 Things Consultants Can Learn From Healthcare Clients
In a recent survey, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) reports that cost overruns, delays and scope creep (all indications of project failure, by some opinions) continue to plague the project work of consultants they hire (See Figure 3, below). As 6-in-10 healthcare organizations are reported as hiring consultants for IT system setup, helpdesk or financial services consulting, for example, those project failures are all-too-commonplace.
To better understand what U.S. hospitals and health systems look for in successful relationships with third-party consulting firms, HIMSS conducted a survey across 100 respondents responsible for evaluating, approving, and/or managing consulting firm relationships for the U.S. hospital or health system at which they work.
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So what can healthcare consultants glean from this study? Here are five things that consulting organizations can learn from healthcare clients seeking ongoing project work:
1. The skills and expertise you offer are critical to healthcare organizations. Simply put, they need you – which is good news for the client roster and your bottom line. Because these clients need to keep pace with ever-changing market conditions and want to focus their internal resources on vital healthcare tasks, most rely on consulting firms for the specialty expertise you offer (See Figure 1).
2. Though the ability to supply needed skills and fulfill services are key to the consultant selection process, so is cost. It may be no surprise that consulting organizations like yours are being chosen for the ability to deliver on the requirements of the project, but make sure you are competing well on price, too (See figure 2). It might be time to review your register of services and consider new ways to package things up, or adjust the pricing structures you’ve been using to make sure you’re keeping pace with your competition.
3. Sticking to project cost, schedule and scope can be competitive differentiators. In addition to an inability to deliver services as promised, and a lack of visibility into project spend, healthcare projects are still plagued with the age-old problems of cost overruns, schedule delays and creeping project scope (Figure 3). Break the habit of breaking cost, schedule and scope promises, and you may get more business and repeat clients.
4. In-house project managers are taking your business. Because the healthcare organizations surveyed face recurring challenges with consultants, more than half hire in-house project management expertise to overcome barriers to project success, and close to half find they need to perform regular project reviews to improve processes (Figure 4). From a consulting perspective, that means lost dollars on every contract for which they need in-house project management. Consultants can recapture those dollars with a demonstrated ability to deliver project excellence.
5. Collaboration is king when looking to build successful relationships with healthcare clients. It’s true. Almost 70% of healthcare organizations report that “active collaboration between consultant and client” is most critical to the continuing success of consulting relationships with their organization (Figure 5). Also true? All five of the tools and services healthcare organizations reported were most critical can be managed using project-based technology designed for consulting firms.
These lessons from healthcare organizations may be hard pills to swallow when looking for a competitive edge in the healthcare industry. But with a bit of focus, they may also be easy enough for your firm to adjust when looking for ways to be agile in an uncertain market. This study was conducted with stand-alone or specialty hospitals and academic medical centers (52% of respondents), multihospital or integrated health systems (41% of respondents) and other acute care centers (7%) between April 14 - 16, 2020.
Get a closer look at the HIMSS study metrics, how they affect your healthcare project work, and how to overcome challenges by registering to view the HIMSS/Deltek webinar.