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All Things HIT

Jan 18 2013   4:21PM GMT

Consultants: Rising to the top of the health IT landscape

Posted by: AllinHIT
All Things HIT, consulting, Health IT, Health IT jobs, HITECH, Uncategorized

HITECH, Affordable Care Act, meaningful use core measures, SNOWMED, LOINC codes, ICD-10/5010, ACOs, PCMHs, HIEs, HISPs, HIEs, The Direct Project, Blue Button initiative, Surescripts, NwHIN, CDS, Telehealth, HL7, Medicare SGR, Pay for Performance, CCD/CCR – the list goes on and on.

It’s an exciting time to be working in the health care IT industry. There’s no doubt health care is transforming. What’s more, that transformation is happening quickly! With that in mind, how can a consultant stay on top of this fast-paced, ever-changing industry? It takes more than simply staying abreast of your particular realm of health IT.

When I first started out as a consultant some years ago, I had a mentor who was well respected and had built a stellar name in the industry. The most valuable lesson I learned from him was that consultants who possess the same knowledge and certifications are a dime a dozen. The industry continues to hunt for health care IT workers. What separates the great workers from the good ones is the extra knowledge they bring to the table, which adds value to their services.

With that in mind, understanding the client’s pain (a solution-selling term), and being a contributor to the solution will add that needed value to separate you from the rest. He felt if you could talk to the client’s pains, understand their strategic direction, and know where your role was in the big picture, you could procure a client. Needless to say, it could even extend the engagement! A great place to start is at health IT conferences, seminars and other networking opportunities.

So, what does it take to stay abreast in the industry? First, it takes a true time commitment. I constantly dedicate my personal time to reading up on health IT, meaningful Use, and All Things HIT. Certain publications, such as SearchHealthIT, are perfect for this!

Secondly, make sure you understand the health care industry as a whole. Understanding health IT is obvious, but studying the industry as a whole?  Yes, your understanding of new industry delivery methods (ACOs, telehealth, mHealth, etc.), HL7 integration, infrastructure, client initiatives (quality, Medicare Shared Savings program, etc.), adds value as a consultant. These examples could be outside your scope, but I guarantee clinical workflows, reporting, infrastructure, project plans, budgets, and the EHR build are all affected by them. Grasping this big picture of the client’s strategic plan will make you a better trainer, consultant, builder, or whatever role you play.

Last but not least, it takes a true love for consulting, health IT and the industry to be successful. If the love exists, the aforementioned time commitment and broad scope of study are not arduous. If the love’s not there, then you’re almost destined to fail – and it may be time to look for another career.

Remember, life is too short to not love your work!

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