EMR Consultant Challenges

Everyone has been touting all the tremendous opportunities that are out there for EMR consultants and healthcare IT people. No doubt, there’s a lot of action right now around EMR. However, I’ve started to see many EMR consultants starting to wonder where the fountain of youthwork is that they heard was coming for EMR consultants.

EMR consultants face a really interesting challenge. The small clinics usually can’t afford the services of a consultant (or feel that they can’t) and the large clinics have their own in house resources and so their reticent to pay an outside EMR consultant to come into their practice. Where does that leave the EMR consultants that heard there’s this amazing need for help with EMR selection and implementation?

Not an easy problem to solve. Plus, there’s an even larger group of providers that still haven’t made the decision and committed the resources needed to implement an EMR. This means that the EMR consultant ends up having to not only sale their EMR consulting services, but also have to sale doctors on EMR.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t a number of opportunities for people wanting to consult on EMR selection and implementation. It just means that EMR consultants are going to have to be really creative in how they find new customers.

From my experience, it’s going to be all about the relationships and trust that these consultants create with the doctors. As in most business, but particularly in healthcare relationships matter a lot.

Anybody have advice they can give these EMR consultants? It always amazes me how every job is basically a sales job. It’s just what you’re trying to “sale” that changes.

Note: Let’s also not confuse true EMR consultants with EMR salespeople dressed in consultant clothing.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Is the issue with small practices that they are not at at baseline readiness for EMR adoption? They need a vendor/partner for IT infrastructure (Internet service, cabling, network gear, security, servers). How can the EMR solution providers better partner with managed services providers to get on the ground support to these practices? We need to simplify and demystify the intrastructure.

  • Jeremy,
    Yes, the IT infrastructure is part of the problem. With one EMR consultant I was talking to, I suggested finding managed IT service providers as partners. Many of these IT service providers already have relationships with clinics.

    However, I think there’s a bigger barrier to EMR implementation in that many haven’t obtained the buy-in from their clinic to start planning. Until you get that buy in and drive to implement, an EMR consultant isn’t that useful.

  • The biggest problem, as I’ve said before, is that most EMRs are ugly, cumbersome, bloated distractions that come between doctors and patients, waste money, and lead to errors. It’s hard to sell or even recommend such poor products to people who know better and have devoted their lives to their vision of patient care.

  • Brian,
    That seems like the perfect opportunity for an EMR consultant to show these doctors the EMR software that isn’t “ugly, cumbersome, bloated distractions” no? Save doctors the heartache of choosing the wrong EMR.

  • John, Great timing. Our company is looking for CCHIT consultants that can evaluate our application to pass 2011 CCHIT Certification standards. Do you or know of anyone? -Denis

  • When I used to work for McKesson in IT Outsourcing we had a clear delineation between intrastructure and applications; of course this was in the context of a $1B integrated delivery network, but the model makes sense even for the small practice market. Unless the EMR vendors want to get into the business of managing email servers, file servers, printers, routers…looking to partner with EMR vendors or IDNs!

  • If I can restate the problem in more general terms:

    1. Small clinics can’t afford pre-existing software.

    2. Big clinics don’t need it.

    3. Software consulting is supposed to be very profitable.

    The one we are all getting hung up on is #3.

    The floodgates of this new market are not going to be broken by the blue-chip companies or by companies waiting for their cash cow to come walking in the door, but by smaller super-performant startups who are willing to get their boots dirty in the office, with the doctors and nurses actually using their product.

    Talented, insightful programmers who are willing to be merely Ramen profitable in order to spend the time developing kick-ass software for a client are going to be the ones who deliver in this small-clinic market.

    If you run a small clinic and are looking for an EHR consultant, you might try looking at neighboring universities for computer science students rearing to put their (inexpensive) talent to work… or at least a company that thinks like them.

  • Denis,
    It’s a good question. I don’t think I do. I know a few people who have gone through it. Let me poke around and see if any of them want to consult. From my understanding, it seems like the test scripts are pretty straightforward. It’s always seemed like taking a test where they give you all the questions and answers before you take it.

  • Nick,
    You’re so right in your analysis. Although, you’re not really talking about EMR consultants. I don’t think any EMR consultants are going to become really rich in this process. Many of them will do very well. They’ll make a very good living. However, they won’t have a windfall.

    The ones who will make the most money in this market are going to be the small EMR vendors that get a bunch of traction and then eventually sell off to one of the larger EMR vendors. Of course, a large number of these small EMR vendors are going to get very little traction and fold up shop. That’s what makes entrepreneurship so fun!

  • John,
    Yes, I misunderstood. My definition of consulting includes software development. But, my misconceptions aside, I agree: A pure consulting firm will certainly find challenges entering the marketplace.

  • Associating with the HITECH Regional Extension Centers may give EMR consultants some opportunities to gain traction. One way would be to provide information about the different EMR packages out there to drs. who use the centers.

  • This blog is very helpful to those of us who are trying to be up to date with the latest developments in HITECH and EHR issues. I have see it mentioned many times that a prctaice should choose the “right” EHR vendor. Is there somewhere that we can find an EHR vendor rating for solo PCP offices, specialty offices, clinics, hospitals etc.? This include such factors as cost of software, cost of implementation, hidden costs, customer support, ease of use, stand alone EHR or integrated with PMS.

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