Five Things to Look for When Choosing a Professional Consultant

As a blogger, people always ask me if I run out of things to write about. It turns out that I never come close. Occasionally I’m not motivated to write or there are stories I don’t feel like writing that day, but there are always plenty of stories to write about. In fact, I have hundreds of draft blog post ideas sitting there waiting for me to write.

The problem with all these ideas sitting in my draft blog post folder is that many of them sink to the bottom as more ideas come in. So, every once in a while I like to go digging to see what blog ideas I never published and should have written.

That’s where today’s blog post came from. The team at Logicalis US sent me a great list of five things healthcare CIOs should look for when choosing a professional consultant. Check out the list below:

1. Have a Point of View: Having a point of view is very different from having technological expertise.  It’s about applying that expertise to develop an opinion about the best way to implement a particular technology or solution – and it’s about being so confident in that opinion that they’re willing to share their point of view with you. It does not, however, mean rigidly adhering to a single point of view when another option may work better. The key is to find a partner that has the expertise to advise you about what has worked well for other clients in similar scenarios, yet one who is open to what will work best in yours.

2. Eat their Own Cheerios: As clients move into the third platform and need help extending their capabilities, there are many consultants that can talk with them from a position of strength and experience.  But, if you want to limit the number of partners you have, look for solution providers that are deploying their own strategies and leveraging their own services where possible.  If they aren’t eating their own Cheerios, metaphorically speaking, then you shouldn’t either.

3. Promote Choice and Flexibility: If the partner you select offers its own cloud services, for example, that can be a plus.  But when your business needs dictate using another solution, the right professional consultant will lead the charge.  It’s critical, therefore, that the partner you select is objective enough to be truly vendor neutral, promoting choice and flexibility even when that means helping you select a solution or service that competes with its own.  Many partners are now adopting strategies to manage solutions beyond their own portfolio promoting a framework offering flexibility and choice all delivered with a high-quality, consistent end-user experience.  In the end, partnering with organizations like these will allow you to leverage volume and scale and achieve the best commercial economics while spending less time managing partner relationships.

4. Have a Wide Array of Experiences: A partner that has served clients across a number of industries will often have a wide array of experiences and best practices that can lead to creative solutions that a more linearly focused partner might not have in its toolbox.

5. Be Able to Solve Business Problems Outside of IT: If one of the CIO’s top priorities is to be seen as a more strategic partner to the business, it’s important to have a consultant behind you that can think outside the box – and sometimes that means outside of IT.  Savvy consultants can often leverage common IT processes and service management protocols and apply them to businessproblems beyond the traditional realm of IT.  Can well-oiled ITIL-oriented processes around incident, problem and change leveraged through an ITSM platform, for example, be applied to a manufacturer’s warranty returns process? IT consultants that get to know your business can offer creative ideas that will help you solve vexing business problems in new and creative ways leading to innovation and strategic value.

I think these are some great ideas to think about. What’s been fascinating from my perspective has been the evolution of the term consultant in healthcare IT. During the golden era of EHR adoption, the term consultant largely became synonymous with temp staff. I think they preferred the term consultant because it was easier to justify the high temp staff rates if you called them consultants.

Now that EHR software is implemented, I’m interested to see if we see the return of the true consultant. I think we will. I’m just not sure how many of the “Temp Staff” consulting companies will be able to truly make the transition to consultant.

What else would you add to the list of things you look for when choosing a consultant? Are there red flags you watch for as well? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter with @HealthcareScene.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, 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,, 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.