A Shift in Consulting Travel Opportunities

In 2018 I shared a blog on the idea of remote contracting work (link), and the impact of rate, at a time that almost no one offered nor wanted such a situation.  Consultants wanted to travel, saw points and hotel/airline perks as an added benefit to their career.  Clients expected the team to be onsite, to be incorporated into the team, and directly impact productivity.  I interviewed dozens of consultants and they all said they had zero interest in remote.  In March 2020 I posted another very different idea on the same subject, all work efforts would convert to remote for considerable time due to Covid…and at that time, we had no idea of the changes to come.

Three years later there is no question that “remote,” is the new norm.  Consultants have accepted the fact that their airlines status has shifted from Diamond to Gold, or Titanium to Silver or…well, it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it?  Clients, or a large number of them, have simply shifted their models for their teams to almost be 100% remote and their consultants are expected to be the same.  The few that do go on site, with a limited travel arrangement, seem to average a trip once a month, or 20% travel schedule.

Another interesting change is hiring full time staff regardless of where the employees live.  This trend is happening all across the country.  I’ve spoken with several local hospitals here in Boston and they all have employees who live in Ohio, for example, or even further away.  They allow their own workers to travel and work from their Florida home in the winter months or summer cottage locations in the summer.  No doubt this has improved retention of talent for clients and may be an option for consultants to consider in a contract to hire scenario. 

Onsite requirements continue to change and no doubt clients are looking at variations of home work options. We have all read that some industries are buckling at the remote concept, including software companies.  There is no doubt in my mind we will continue to see changes over the next several years.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of clients who are asking for onsite consultants, but they are the minority right now.

So what’s next for us in the world of healthcare IT consulting? If I had to make a prediction on any shift to consultant travel expectations in the future, it would be simple, expect more of a hybrid model.  It’s a standard contract question now…”what level of travel do you expect for this role.”  These agreements, 80% remote 20% onsite for example, are now a part of any work order.  Recruiters have to ask travel related questions to every candidate now, and as a consultant…you have more options than ever before when it comes to remote vs onsite opportunities.

What are you doing today…remote or onsite?  Share your thoughts below in the comments section. 

Press Releases and News that Every EHR Consultant Should Know About

There is never a dull moment in the world of Healthcare IT.  Throughout this winter almost every EHR vendor has made some major announcement regarding either an acquisition, merger, expansion of service, or new market focus.  As consultants it’s truly important we stay informed on where EHRs are focusing their attention and expanding.  These changes all can have impact on how we support our clients and, more importantly, how our clients shift their prioritization of IT investments and initiatives. 

Below are hyperlinks to these press releases and my brief take on the announcements.

  • Cerner’s announcement, regarding being sold to Oracle, dominated the news at the end of year. The $28.3B deal is the largest EHR acquisition in history and will no doubt result in continued international market growth.  Take a look at the article because the big opportunity they spell out here is to expand cloud, AI and machine learning applications for Cerner’s healthcare clients.  I can’t even start to list all the areas of impact to current and new Cerner health systems regarding physician burn out, reduction in clinical documentation, and improved workflows.
  • Athenahealth also made an announcement at the end of the year regarding their planned acquisition by Hellman & Friedman and Bain Capital for $17 Billion. Take a look at the article as they talk about their specific modules including patient engagement, revenue cycle, telehealth, payments, population health, and value-based care management.  The Ambulatory EMR software company clearly is continuing to grow and they’ve taken advantage of the press release to really point out their presence in the market space.
  • eClinicalWorks sent out a press release regarding their integration with Payground.  If there is one word that seems to be a trend in healthcare process improvement right now, its automation.  Take a look at the article as it outlines how offices will be able to accept payment at the point of care and immediately and automatically post the payment to the patient’s account.  Think workflow improvement and direct capture for those of you in RCM consulting.
  • Allscipts announces their new Allscripts App Expo, the company’s developer program that enables developers to connect with multiple Allscripts EHR and practice management solutions.  Healthcare systems can expand third party vendor solutions via the App Expo while new technology companies now have a way to integrate with them directly.  Huge opportunity for those of you who are always looking for process improvements using various technologies, not always offered by the EHR directly. 
  • Allscripts also announced in March that they had entered into an agreement with Constellation Software’s N. Harris Computer Corporation to acquire their hospital and large physician practice business segment which includes Allscripts’ Sunrise, Paragon, TouchWorks, Opal and dbMotion tools.  Take a look as Harris has a digital platform offering that would expand some capabilities in this marketspace…and as we’ve all been reading, digital is another huge buzz word for us right now. 
  • MEDITECH had a press release come out on March 1st regarding their release for a MEDITECH Ambulatory Expanse offering aimed at independent and physician-owned practices. The subscription cloud based solution offers an alternate EHR choice and offers variations of automation much needed in the ambulatory setting.  They are clearly preparing for an aggressive sales approach to hang on to those who may be looking at shared licensing agreements via Epic or Cerner nearby hospital systems.
  • Epic came out with a press release that announced Garden Plot, also an Ambulatory focused solution that includes Epic’s software for independent medical groups through a hosted and supported Software as a Service (SaaS) model, which includes several integrated products.  As a possible alternative to Community Connect model, Ambulatory facilities may be more intrigued with this more independent offering.  Take a look at the extensive list of integrated products from revenue cycle to pharmacy.

Most interesting to me on all this is the heavy focus on the Ambulatory space.  While some of the specific companies above have always targeted the Ambulatory market, now it seems to be an opportunity for everyone.  It will be interesting to see how these changes impact our customers’ needs over the upcoming months.   I’ll also be interested in hearing from you all on how new opportunities are emerging for you because of these new service offerings and changes.

Leave your comments below.

ViVE vs HIMSS…What is the Difference?

Florida will be hosting two of the largest Healthcare IT conventions back to back next month.  I’ve written many times about HIMSS in the past, and what consulting firms hope to get out of the event.  But this time I am writing because there is a new convention directly competing again HIMSS, and for the first time firms and vendors are having to make difficult decisions between the two events in terms of exhibiting, attending, sponsoring and overall investment dollars. 

It’s important to understand the difference, the history of the two and why your firm’s investment means they are likely participating in one or the other…or both.  ViVE is a brand new event, so there is a lot to unpack here.  Before understanding the two events, let’s first talk about the two organizations that are collaborating to create ViVE, HLTH and CHiME.    

Taking directly from the HLTH (pronounced “health”)  website, they describe their organization as a community of leaders, innovators, and pioneers of the health industry and span across the entire health ecosystem; payers, providers, employers, investors, startups, life sciences, policymakers, and the patient community to discuss the trends and strategies needed to create health’s future.  They are truly an events services company that has been hosting a series of healthcare related events for just the last 5 years. 

On the other hand is a very well-known organization, CHIME, who has been around for 30 years providing education, networking, and various global events to support Healthcare IT executives.  Taken directly from their website, The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs) and other senior digital health leaders. CHIME includes more than 5,000 members in 56 countries and two U.S. territories and partners with over 150 healthcare IT businesses and professional services firms. CHIME and its three associations provide a highly interactive, trusted environment that enables senior industry leaders to collaborate, exchange best practices, address professional development needs and advocate for effective use of information management to improve health and care in their communities.

For several years, CHiME has partnered directly with HIMSS for their annual event in the Spring.  CHiME would start a couple days prior to HIMSS, but both would overlap and share common convention space.  It has always been convenient to executives attending both events, as well as for firms and vendors who sponsor CHiME while also exhibiting and HIMSS giant show floor.  Before Covid, HIMSS would attracts some 40,000 attendees from around the world and would be hosted in either Las Vegas or Orlando (although they tried Chicago and New Orleans once as well).  Speculations of the separation of the two is likely around Covid-19 and the last minute poorly executed cancelation of HIMSS in 2020.  The 2021 HIMSS was held in Vegas, but attendance was down by over 80%.  2022 HIMSS event is still down with only 1400 attendees and around 400 vendors. 

Now that we understand the organizations behind the events, let’s look at the marketing and positioning of the two events.  ViVE, being held at the Miami Beach Convention Center March 6th – 9th has positioned itself as a Digital Health event.  “With rapid digital health adoption and accelerated readiness to accept new modes of care delivery and engagement, there’s a pressing need to convene health IT executives around digital transformation,” said Jonathan Weiner, founder, chairman and CEO of HLTH in a recently posted article on HealthTech.com. He also went on to say, “ViVE was created to respond to the demand for a reimagined health technology event during this exciting and tumultuous time for healthcare and provides a complement to HLTH’s digital health innovation ecosystem event in the fall.”

The ViVE 2022 event will feature Expo programming and special events with thought leaders addressing key issues in digital health innovation. CHIME’s Spring Forum, which will provide education and networking opportunities for CHIME members and will be integrated directly into the ViVE event.  I should mentioned that CHIME and HLTH have worked together in the past as CHIME was a partner during HLTH 2019 and also participated in the organization’s 2020 virtual conference.

HIMSS22 is being held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL March 14th – 18th.  The HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition is a gathering of healthcare professionals from around the world that take advantage of education sessions, demonstrations, and an exhibition hall with over 400 vendors on display.  It’s positioned for HIMSS members and healthcare professionals, CIOs and senior executives to providers and payers to IT consultants and entrepreneurs…a true trade show if you will.

The questions your company is likely asking themselves when considering investing in these events are simple.  What is the reason they want to attend and what are the outcomes they hope to leave with?  If you work for a technology vendor they are likely there to showcase and demo your product(s) in hopes to create a pipeline of new business.  If you work for a new company, they might be there for market awareness and brand recognition.  Hospital executives may be attending in hopes to network and hear how others are tackling areas in Covid data management, telehealth, and/or Digital investments.  The point is, what do you hope your firm will get out of attending? 

I’m seeing two very different views on the events.  Some believe HIMSS22 will be a lack luster event with minimal attendance and almost no return on investment.  With a ratio of 1:8 for hospital to vendor attendees, that view makes sense to many.  On the other hand, ViVE is brand new with a narrow focus on Digital transformation of the market.  Not everyone sees HLTH as a solid enough event to make major investment in, being it’s first year…it is a bit of a gamble.  Many not attending are surprising to me. I noticed that Epic has their usual huge booth at HIMSS, but is not attending ViVE.  So many customers I’ve talked to know HIMSS, and believe that is where the value is.  Vendor views vs client views on these events are no doubt, different and will be more clear after the events.  I’m eager to read and write about them both.

What is your firm’s decision regarding attendance and/or sponsorship of these events?  Share your thoughts and comment below.

Best in KLAS…How you the Consultant Directly Impact the Results

Anyone who was on LinkedIn last week probably noticed the endless posts regarding Best in KLAS.  The annual report came out last Monday and showcased top rated EHRs including Epic and MEDITECH, top in Overall IT Services to Nordic, top in Revenue Cycle Services to Ensemble, and top IT Outsourcing to HCTec.  The 259 page report has a lot of information, but why does this report matter to us consultants?  In my opinion, firms that are not in the top 3 or 4 of any rated category may not be considered for opportunities in the market.  Which could mean more bench time to you.  Knowing where your firm falls is important.  Knowing how you directly impact that score should be just as important as well.

Let’s take a minute to talk a little more about the report.  While KLAS is very broad in there categories from Acute EHRs to Payer Solutions to Imaging Systems, as a consultant our eyes go right to the Services and Consulting area that has 26 different categories.  From there we can dive into those we all support like IT Advisory Services, Healthcare Management Consulting, HIM Services, Implementation Services, IT Outsourcing, Revenue Cycle Services, and Technical Services…to name a few. 

Within each of these categories are grades based on questions submitted to clients on performance and return on investment.  The questions are broken in 5 area including loyalty, operations, services, relationship, and value. Believe it or not your individual contribution and performance on a project can, and does, impact those scores.  The difference between an A and A- can mean be ranked 3rd because of a 0.3 score difference, as was the case with my firm to be in 2nd instead of 3rd place for Go-Live services. 

Clients are asked questions about the value they saw in bringing the firm in.  But really they are being asked about you and the impact you made on the project, and most importantly…the impression you made to them regarding your firm.  Sure, you may say you are only 1 of dozens of consultants on a project.  But think about this analogy.  If you had a wonderful dinner, with great food and great service but while enjoying your dinner noticed a long black hair in your food…what do you do and what will you remember later?  When filling out these surveys sometimes the finding of the hair overshadows everything else.  Each one of us on a project make up the entire experience, don’t be the piece of hair.

The most common area of impact on a project, and potential impact to a client feedback to KLAS, is the value add you brought. Differentiating yourself through quality of deliverables and providing documentation, regardless of being asked or not, is a major point of impact. Document everything you’ve built, tested, and/or created. If the client doesn’t want a weekly status report, create one anyway and create an end of project summary as a leave behind. Give client employees your email and cell phone so they can contact you if you are away. Be that person who is always first in and last out. Make yourself available, stick out as a team player who wants to be there…differentiate yourself from others and show the value add.

If you haven’t seen the report, ask your manager or marketing team if they can share the results.  Take a look at the rating but also ask to see the comments.  While KLAS doesn’t provide the client name, it is often times easy to identify who the client was by specifics called out in the comments.  Don’t look to management or your executive team to own your firms KLAS ratings, it truly all comes down to the individual consultant…you.

How did your firm do on the report?  Did you see any surprises?  Share your comments below. 

Remembering Epic’s UGM on September 11, 2001

Everyone has a story of where they were on 9/11.  Many talk about being at work or in school when someone called to say, “turn on the TV.”  Some folks were flying that day, while many were on vacation.  I personally, was sitting in the Oscar Mayer Theatre in downtown Madison, WI attending the general session of Epic’s UGM.

Before Epic had their campus at Verona, UGM was held downtown at the Monona Terrace.  And the big event, Tuesday’s General Session, was held at the Oscar Mayer Theatre, about a 10 minute walk away.  It was a perfect morning outside, and we all walked with excitement to watch Judy Faulkner and team tell us about the latest and greatest in Epic’s software development.

The theatre had 2100 seats, and we were jam packed in and getting settled for a full day of entertainment and education.  Around 50 minutes into the presentation the giant movie theater screen changed from the presentation we were watching to live TV with an image of the first tower on fire.  We thought it was going to be another skit about how Epic can help with emergency room volumes or something like that.  But not even 2 minutes later the second plane hit.  People jumped up and rushed out of the auditorium onto the streets.  Lines formed at every pay phone. The few of us with cell phones had a lot of issues getting through to family.  Mine worked pretty well, so I lent mine to anyone who needed it.  Everyone just wanted to reach their families.

There was a good couple hours of chaos and confusion.  Those who could, immediately departed.  Most of us returned to the theater waiting on news updates and what we should do.  It was a very emotional couple of hours, for everyone.

Judy came out on stage and announced the meeting would go on as so many of us were stuck there with the airports being closed.  It was the right decision.  Most people did leave.  The rest of the general session was canceled and we went back to our hotel and congregated in the lobby bar to watch the news…for hours.  The next several days of UGM were various breakout sessions and client presentations at the Monona Terrace.  Epic did an awesome job keeping everyone updated day after day on travel options.

Being from Boston, my group had an extended visit in Madison, until we finally got a truck and drove home.  Epic coordinated finding us a truck and called with the request to take a couple of folks from NYC with us.  We had 9 people in an 8 passenger van with all our luggage.  Lucky for me I had a wedding in Buffalo, NY so I got dropped off after 14 hours.  Would have been faster but with so many people we stopped every 2 hours for a stretch break.  I felt terrible for the rest of the group, they had another 8 hours to go to Boston but did drop off 2 at the train station in Albany, NY. 

I talked to Judy about the event a few years back and she was telling some stories about the behind the curtain discussions she and her team were having that terrible Tuesday morning.  Mainly there was a lot of debate over whether to keep showing the news on the giant screen. I can’t imagine the pressure to decide what to do with thousands of people there for their event…they were the host, and they certainly stepped up.

The entire Epic team was accommodating and truly a wonderful host during a time of crisis of the entire nation and world.  I’ll forever be grateful personally to Epic.  They kept us safe, informed, coordinated, and eventually assured everyone got home. 

Anyone else at UGM that year?  Or who was at a client site that day?  Share your memories and gratitude for those who helped you below.

Airlines Reopen For Business… Without Staff To Support

I was going to blame Hurricane Elsa on the fact that there was an 8.5 hour wait to reach a Delta agent. However I remembered last week it took 9 hours to reach an agent to change my flight, and there was no hurricane. Calling the Elite line for Delta for 15+ years, I typically am connected to an agent immediately. Sometimes, like during a hurricane, a robot asks if they can call me back within an hour. That was all pre-Covid and before airlines laid off some 75% of their call agents. The question is, if airlines can’t rehire and staff to meet customer needs, why are flights back to capacity?

American has had staffing shortages since travel resumed as well. Stories of grounded flights due to shift changes, pilot shortages, and long wait times for call agents has been all over social media. American has always struggled with customer services issue. Another question for American, is why would they overbook and sell out their flights when they know they can’t provide the staff needed to accommodate for the number of passengers?

I called Southwest and United to see what there robot would tell me for wait times. To no surprise both quoted several hours for a return call. So while I can’t point finger at the hurricane or Covid, I can call out the poor decisions airlines are making. Airlines want to return to normal times, but haven’t made the staffing investments to do so. They need to reduce the capacity of flights when short staffed as well as the number of flights until staffing is back to normal. Call agents should be priority number one. Let’s face it, America wants to get back to work and wants to travel again….airlines are actually deterring the public with these daily stories of horrific customer service experiences.

Thoughts? What are you seeing from your airline? Leave your comments below….

Travel Insurance…Stay protected while traveling again

Expect the unexpected. Rarely is that old adage proven true as often as it is in the context of traveling. But some surprises aren’t as cool as cruising through the ocean and seeing a group of whales nearby.  With that in mind, it is important now more than ever to have the necessary coverage for your trip in the event that any delays or cancellations occur. While we as consultants have historically assumed our Travel Management System covers all this, that may not be the case anymore.

The most adequate travel insurance policy for you is going to be the one that offers the specific coverage you need at a price you can readily afford. Here’s a rundown of the most common types of travel insurance, as well as some of the optional benefits you may want to look into.

  1. An interruption in your trip: Interruption coverage protects you in the event you have to return home due to an emergency once you’ve already started your trip or before. It will pay for the cost of getting you home and getting you back to your destination once you’re able to travel again.

A good example is medical conditions. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, verify whether it’s included in a policy’s medical insurance provisions. Most insurance companies require you to purchase additional coverage for pre-existing conditions.

  1. Canceling a trip: Cancellation coverage covers you for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses under a fixed set of circumstances outlined in your policy. You can make a claim when you have to cancel a trip due to a health emergency or illness, for example. Depending on the policy you choose, you may also be able to make a claim if you’re laid off from work or you’re called for jury duty.

If the list of covered cancellation reasons under basic cancellation coverage seems too limited to you, you might want to opt for CFAR or “Cancel For Any Reason”. It offers the fullest coverage but may only make sense for you if your calendar is subject to change at a moment’s notice.

Trip cancelation is a common travel insurance claim, but many policies won’t pay out for trips canceled for any reason whatsoever. Be sure to review the specifics of the policy you’re considering.

  1. If something happens to your luggage: There are few things more irritating than getting to your destination and realizing your luggage has not arrived with you. Pay attention to coverage limits and increase yours as necessary. Even mundane items like laptops and cell phones have replacement costs beyond the limits set by basic policies, so be careful to read your policy closely to be sure your most expensive possessions are fully protected.

Coverage for delayed bags will need some time to pass before you can make a claim – depending on the policy you purchased this anywhere from 2 to 6 hours and up. Once claimed your insurance will reimburse you to help replace your lost items, up to the policy limit.

Some credit cards will even cover your expenses sometimes if you were to cancel last minute. Having a travel credit card can allow you to have a more enjoyable and affordable travel experience, which means planning is key.

Credit card companies such as Chase and American Express have begun to extend the eligible purchase periods giving their customers additional time to earn their signup bonuses. Some companies are now providing additional bonus points for purchases done due to the pandemic. Examples include streaming services, food, and grocery delivery. It is important for cardholders to check in with their credit card companies to learn which non-travel purchases qualify for bonus points. This is a great incentive when trying to build good credit if you think about buying a house one day as well.

While travel insurance isn’t terribly expensive when compared with the cost of your trip, there are ways to bring down the cost. If you’re a frequent enough traveler, an annual policy might make financial sense for you. And if you’re traveling with a group—to take advantage of one of our terrific team-building events, for example—buying group insurance is a great way for all members of your party to get the same coverage for less.

Even if you decide on picking travel insurance for your international or domestic trip, make sure you understand exactly what’s covered. There are different categories for basic and special coverage. Be sure to check out this article from Money.com who provided the information for this post and make sure you understand you know everything that is covered in your policy.

Check with your firm on their policy for insurance reimbursement, but regardless, consider for any and all personal travel during these new times. I’ll be curious who is currently covering their upcoming trips with insurance…does work pay for it? Is it linked through your travel site like Concur? Leave your comments below.

Vaccine Management Consultant opportunities

Covid-19 vaccines are here…well sort of.  Let’s face it, it’s been the top news story (other than politics) for a couple months now.  Various levels of success on vaccine distribution are being reported from state to state.  All EHR systems have rolled out their software versions and solutions.  For us as consultants, we immediately have recognized the need for support at the client level regarding all these challenges and system changes.

I’ve been asked so many times this past year what we are doing at my company regarding Covid-19 response offerings.  The list just keeps growing, and now has shifted to vaccine management.  I thought this week I would take a moment to talk about what I’m seeing out there and will be eager to hear what you all have been doing as it relates to providing clients with support.   

The top focus right now is no doubt creating a program that streamlines vaccine administration and management.  A combination of EHR enhancement tools to workflow process design for program administrators and clinicians.  And obviously, having the resources to execute the program.

Here are some bullets on areas you may be asked to support:

  • EHR system upgrade support – All EHR’s have introduced enhancements and/or new software for contact tracing that tracks patients from initial screening, scheduling, vaccine administration and symptom tracking.  Customers need assistance with implementing and training.
  • Call center solutions – A big demand now to help with large increases and surges in call volumes.  Agents available to address frequently asked vaccine questions and provide eligibility screening via completion of patient questionnaires and/or surveys.
  • Scheduling Center solutions – A combination of screenings, patient portal access support, and vaccine scheduling services are all in demand, including appointment reminders.
  • Advisory solutions – Clients are seeking recommendation and guidance that aligns with CDC-recommended process for developing a vaccine distribution program including EHR, business, and billing processes to create a successful vaccine roll-out program.
  • Analytics and Data Management – Analytics are being used in a combination of vaccine distribution plans to define and redefine high-priority populations, track and allocate vaccine supplies, monitor population engagement and dosage regimen adherence, provide last mile/distribution logistics analytics, as well as effectiveness and safety pattern analysis.

This is an all hands on deck type of scenario for our customers right now.  My list of consultant opportunities is very much operational focused.  There are technology and software companies that are introducing products daily to assist with this immediate need. Here is a great article on 25 recently introduced vaccine solutions – https://hitconsultant.net/2020/12/18/recent-covid-19-vaccine-management-solutions/

What are you doing to help your customer with vaccination management?  Would love to hear how you and your firm are extending services.  Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Consultant Travel – Covid Home & Airport testing options

Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa (Photo by Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images)

With state restrictions and client testing requirements, Covid-19 testing has become essential for continued consultant travel. Having just completed my first business travel in 9 months, I found two great options, home testing before travel and airport testing when returning home. Both provided an easy solution.

The FDA has recognized several home testing options.  I opted for Everlywell as they were the first to gain authorization for a standalone at-home testing collection kit.  If you live in a state that requires a negative test within 72 hours of returning home, taking a 2nd test at the airport is perfect combination to meet requirements and give you a peace of mind.  Let’s first talk about home testing.

The kits are simple and truly self-explanatory. It took perhaps 3 minutes to pop open the box, swab both nostrils, and seal in box.  Kit comes with pre-paid return shipping label via FebEx or UPS.  One thing that was tricky was timing.  You need to have your results back before you fly, and must take within 5 days of intended travel. Plus you cannot mail in your test on the weekend.  My flight was Monday, so I mailed my test on Thursday before and received results on Monday.  It was cutting it close.  Should have mailed it one day earlier to be exactly the 5 day window. 

Options for COVID-19 home test kits include:

A significant number of U.S. airports are offering COVID-19 testing options.  Most clients are asking for evidence of negative test prior to being able to show up for a contract.  So these tests can assist consultants with client requirements that are heading to, or arriving in, destinations where proof of negative COVID-19 test results are required.  These will also will help with state travel restrictions.  I completed mine at the Tampa Airport.  Waited in line for less than 5 minutes, nurse handed me nasal swab and had me do it myself.  Sat outside and waited about 20 minutes to receive my printed negative results.  It was quick, simple, and very well organized.

Here are a list of airports and specifics regarding available testing:


Airports in Alaska offer coronavirus testing as part of that state’s entry requirements. In order to forgo an otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement, travelers can provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result for a test that was taken within 72 hours before their arrival, or they can take a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Alaska. (They have to quarantine until the results are ready.) The testing is free for Alaska residents, but nonresidents have to pay $250 for a test at the airport. There are testing facilities at:

Juneau International Airport

Location: Airport lower level near baggage claim

The testing site at the airport in Juneau is open between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and is also staffed during flight arrivals. You can register for a test in advance online.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Location: Level 1 next to baggage claim carousel 3

COVID-19 testing at the Anchorage airport is available 24/7. You need to register for a test online.


Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Location: Terminal 4, Level 3 inside Drugs & More (presecurity)

An XpresCheck center offering COVID-19 testing is open Thursdays to Mondays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The testing is available to travelers, airport employees, and members of the public, who can schedule online or opt for a walk-in visit. Visits take about 20 minutes.

XpresCheck offers several COVID-19 testing options: a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for $75 (the results can take 2–3 days to arrive); a rapid molecular test that can produce results within 15 minutes, for $200; and antibody tests for $75. You can  get a PCR and antibody test at a cost of $90 together. The facilities also offer rapid flu, strep throat, and mono tests (for $25 each) and a flu shot (for $50).

XpresCheck will attempt to bill health insurance first for any testing and will then send a bill to customers for the remaining balance, if there is one. Through the end of December, Phoenix residents who do not have health insurance that covers the service will have the service supplemented.


Los Angeles International Airport

Locations: Tom Bradley International Terminal on the Departures level at the counters located in Aisle C, north side of the terminal (presecurity); Terminal 2 Arrivals level near the information booth (presecurity); and Terminal 6 Arrivals level near the information booth (presecurity)

At LAX, Clarity Lab Solutions is offering standard polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 tests using a nasal swab with results ready within 24 hours and provided by email. The COVID-19 tests cost $150 each and are available to anyone. The airport’s testing facilities offer walk-in services daily from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Oakland International Airport

Location: Drive-up tests at North Field complex located at 9070 Earhart Road, Oakland

The North Field location is open to the general public and airport employees daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can schedule an appointment three days or less prior to your flight (though same-day appointments are not recommended) at the CityHealth website.

San Diego International Airport

Location: Valet Parking area at 2375 Airlane Road, San Diego 

COVID-19 testing is available at this San Diego airport parking area only for Alaska Airlines passengers flying to Hawaii. Testing takes place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, and test results are ready by 2 p.m. the following day. It costs $170 and you have to show proof of your Alaska flight details.

San Francisco International Airport

Location: International Terminal (presecurity)

United Airlines passengers heading to Hawaii and Cathay Pacific Airways passengers can get tested through a Dignity Health–GoHealth Urgent Care at SFO. The dedicated COVID-19 testing area at SFO is located in the main hall of the international terminal prior to security and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Results are ready in less than an hour. The in-person tests for United passengers heading to Hawaii have a $250 price tag.


Bradley International Airport

Location: Baggage claim area between vestibule doors 4 and 5, across from baggage claim belts 5 and 6.

Passengers arriving in Connecticut from states with high levels of coronavirus transmission don’t have to submit to an otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine period if they procure a negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours prior to arriving in Connecticut or after arriving in the state.

Genesys Diagnostics is providing the COVID-19 PCR testing at the airport through a “minimally invasive” anterior nasal swab. Results are typically available within 3 days but can take up to 10 days to receive. Testing is only available to passengers traveling through the airport on the day of their flight. The facility is open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Making a reservation online is strongly recommended. For travelers who don’t have health insurance or whose insurance does not cover the test, the cost is $125.


Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport

Location: Terminal 3 on the lower level near baggage claim (presecurity)

Operated by Nomi Health of Utah, this testing service is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. To get tested, travelers must show proof of their flight into or out of the Fort Lauderdale airport. You can register online for an appointment for a rapid antigen test with results ready in 30 minutes (for $69), or a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test with results ready within 48 hours (for $99).

Tampa International Airport

Location: Main Terminal near the Airside F shuttle (presecurity)

As of October 1, all departing and arriving passengers at Tampa International Airport can take a COVID-19 test at the Florida hub. A new testing site that was created in partnership with BayCare Health System is located inside Tampa’s Main Terminal. It offers both the rapid antigen test and PCR test. Any traveler can purchase either test regardless of their airline or destination. The PCR tests cost $125 and the antigen tests cost $57.

Testing services will be offered daily on a walk-in basis between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. This was initially a pilot program slated to run through October 31, 2020, but it has been extended at least through the end of the year. It will be available to all ticketed passengers who are flying or have flown within three days and can show proof of travel.


Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (Honolulu)

Location: Diamond Head Tour Group Area just past baggage claim carousel 31

The COVID-19 testing at the Honolulu airport is available to adults and children over the age of five for $125. No appointment is needed and the site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Results are available within three to six hours.


Chicago O’Hare International Airport (coming soon)

Location: A walk-up presecurity testing site will be adjacent to the main terminal core, and there will be a drive-up site in a remote parking lot as well.

 Starting in late December, O’Hare will begin offering COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, with results available in 20 minutes, and PCR tests with results available within 72 hours. Simple Laboratories will be providing the tests, which will be available to both travelers and airport employees.

Chicago Midway International Airport (coming soon)

Location: There will be a walk-up testing site within the terminal at Midway.

By late December, Midway will begin offering COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, with results available in 20 minutes, and PCR tests with results available within 72 hours, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. The tests will be available to both travelers and airport employees.


Portland International Jetport

Location: Level 1 (ground level)

The Portland airport is offering $25 one-hour rapid testing to Maine residents and visitors, as well as PCR tests (with results available in three days) free of charge. Appointments are required and the facility is open daily, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.


Boston Logan International Airport

Location: Terminal E, Arrivals level, near Door E107 (presecurity)

The XpresCheck facility at Boston Logan is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The testing is available to travelers, airport employees and members of the public, who can schedule one on the XpresCheck website or do a walk-in visit.

XpresCheck offers several COVID-19 testing options: a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for $75 (the results can take 2–3 days to arrive); a rapid molecular test that can produce results within 15 minutes, for $200; and antibody tests for $75. You can get a PCR and antibody test at a cost of $90 together. The facilities also offer rapid flu, strep throat, and mono tests (for $25 each) and a flu shot (for $50).


Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Location: Airport’s economy parking lot

The Grand Rapids, Michigan, airport this month introduced a drive-up COVID-19 testing site that offers both rapid antigen tests (for $75) with results in 15 minutes and PCR tests (for $125) with results within 24 to 48 hours. You can get both for $160—health insurance is not accepted. No appointment is needed and the TACKL Health-backed site is open to anyone (not just travelers or staff) from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport

Location: Lobby area on Level 2 of the Blue Ramp. Drive to Terminal 1 and at the entrance to the parking ramps follow the signs for the clinic location, which is on Level 2 of the Blue Ramp. You can park in the lanes designated for COVID-19 testing. Walk to the centrally located elevator lobby and follow signs to the testing site.

Testing at this site backed by the Minnesota Department of Health is free for Minnesotans and $94 for out-of-state residents. The saliva tests are conducted by Vault Medical Services, which asks that you not eat, drink, chew, or smoke anything for at least 30 minutes prior to providing your sample. This process takes about 15 minutes and you can expect to receive test results within a few days via email. The testing site is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Online reservations are encouraged but walk-ins are also welcome.

New Jersey

Newark Liberty International Airport

Location: Terminal B on Level 3 near the front entrance (presecurity)

The XpresCheck facility at Newark is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The testing is available to travelers, airport employees, and members of the public, who can schedule an appointment on the XpresCheck website or do a walk-in visit.

XpresCheck offers several COVID-19 testing options: a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for $75 (the results can take 2–3 days to arrive); a rapid molecular test that can produce results within 15 minutes, for $200; and antibody tests for $75. You can get a PCR and antibody test at a cost of $90 together. The facilities also offer rapid flu, strep throat, and mono tests (for $25 each) and a flu shot (for $50).

New York

In New York, the amount of time out-of-state arrivals have to quarantine can be reduced from 14 days to just 3 with testing.

Albany International Airport

Location: Lower level of the airport

Airport staff can get tested at this site for free, and travelers can get a saliva swab PCR test for between $30 and $60.  

John F. Kennedy International Airport

Location 1: Terminal 4 on Level 1 near Central Diner in the Arrivals Hall (presecurity)

XpresCheck opened its first COVID-19 testing facility at JFK, which is located in Terminal 4  before security so passengers can access it whether or not they are flying into or out of Terminal 4.

The facility offers polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests (also known as nasal swab tests), which cost $75; rapid molecular tests that can produce results within 15 minutes, which cost $200; and antibody tests for $75. You can get a PCR and antibody test at a cost of $90 together. XpresCheck will attempt to bill health insurance first for any testing and will then send a bill to customers for the remaining balance, if there is one. The facility also offers rapid flu, strep throat, and mono tests (for $25 each) and a flu shot (for $50).

Travelers should note that results for the PCR tests could take up to two to three days to arrive. XpresCheck recommends that you make a reservation for a test in advance online, though walk-ins are accepted.

Location 2: JetBlue Terminal 5

The NYC Test & Trace Corps, New York’s COVID-19 public health initiative, has partnered with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and JetBlue to open a free COVID-19 testing site in the carrier’s JFK terminal. The site offers walk-in PCR testing daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Results are typically made available within 48 hours.

LaGuardia Airport

Location: First floor of the Terminal B parking garage (presecurity)

A testing facility at LaGuardia Airport has been set up by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in conjunction with NYC Health & Hospitals as part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to grow the number of complimentary testing sites throughout the state. The testing site is free for all passengers, and no insurance is required.

The center is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and no appointment is needed. PCR tests (with nose swabs) are administered by NYC Health & Hospitals clinicians; results can be expected via phone within 48 hours.


Portland International Airport

Location: Valet Parking area at 7000 NE Airport Way, Portland 

COVID-19 testing is available at the Portland airport only for Alaska Airlines passengers flying to Hawaii. Testing takes place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, and test results are ready within two hours. It costs $135 and you must show proof of your Alaska flight details.


Philadelphia International Airport

Location: Terminal E to the left of the security checkpoint (presecurity)

The airport’s Jefferson Health COVID-19 Testing Clinic offers passengers flying out of the Philadelphia hub an antigen test (with same-day results) for $70 or a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test (with results ready in 2–3 days) for $130. This facility is not able to bill insurance. Testing is available 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and appointments are not available or required. Those interested can preregister online.


Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Location: Inside Terminal D between gates D40 and B1 (postsecurity)

American Airlines is offering preflight COVID-19 tests for travelers flying from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Hawaii.

The options for getting tested prior to a Dallas–Hawaii flight with American are an at-home test kit provided by LetsGetChecked (with results provided within 48 hours on average) that costs $129, including shipping; in-person testing at a CareNow urgent care location in the Dallas area (for a cost of $150); or a $249 rapid-result test administered by CareNow at the DFW airport inside Terminal D.


Burlington International Airport

Location: Just north of the terminal at 481 White Street, South Burlington (near the cell phone lot)

Garnet Health has set up shop at the Vermont airport; it offers rapid COVID-19 and flu testing to travelers as well as to the general public. The outpost is providing PCR testing with results in 36 to 48 hours, rapid antigen testing with same-day results, and rapid influenza tests with same-day results. Garnet is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can bill health insurance for the services.


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Location: Central auditorium, mezzanine level above TSA checkpoint 3 (presecurity)

Discovery Health MD at SEA has made testing available to ticketed passengers (both inbound and outbound) traveling through the Seattle airport. The clinic is offering COVID-19 PCR tests for $250 with same- and next-day results. Those who are interested must make an appointment in advance online up to 72 hours prior to travel. The clinic is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thank you to Afar Travel Magazine for airport details.

Consulting in 2020 – a few hard lessons learned

2021 is finally here! I’m excited to be back online writing and sharing ideas with my fellow consultant friends and colleagues. We are stepping into the New Year with months of lessons learned from coping with quarantine, handling travel restrictions, offering services remotely, and becoming a Zoom expert…to just name a few. No doubt many of us have likely also faced layoffs, furloughs, pay reductions, or extended bench times. I’m eager to chat with you and hear about your lessons learned and hope that my topic picks are of interest and lend to further discussion between us all. Let’s start 2021 with todays blog entry, my summary of a few lessons learned from 2020.

Lesson #1 – Zoom Meeting Etiquette

These may not be in the right order for everyone, but I would say this is exactly the order of lessons I needed to tackle. No doubt the first thing was figuring out Zoom. I wasn’t always ready for that damn camera to turn on! Started many of meetings in March having to duck and run for baseball hat. After a week or so I realized I had book shelfs filled with all kinds of crap in the background, including perhaps some inappropriate “artsy” items. Someone had to show me how to change/fade my background. Some funny comments for sure…lessons learned that resulted in dressing the minute I get up and plane white digital back drop.

Lesson #2 – Transitioning to Virtual Remote Work Model

As consultants, our services are typically offered onsite with direct interactions with our customers. Concerns of impact to quality of deliverables, timeliness of project work, and reduction of customer satisfaction were all on my mind. Without the normal interaction of customers, how would I be confident that I continued to exceed expectations with my client? With the immediate set up of virtual platforms I realized our customers were also adjusting at the same time. Normal conference rooms gatherings and customer calls were just as effective via Teams, Webinar, Zoom, and other online tools. Consultants were stepping up to the idea of chat, instant messaging, and pop up meetings to improve communication. To my relief, I found these changes ended up improving quality, timeliness, and communication…both internally and externally. I expect many of these new “habits” will continue well into 2021.

Lesson #3 – Tackling State Travel Restrictions

While I mentioned most of us were off road, I still had a booming go-live business, and customers were moving forward with their EHR installs. While we did offer a 100% virtual support model, many customers wanted a hybrid of onsite and remote resources. One of the biggest challenges was state travel requirements and restrictions. Almost daily, states would add/remove travel restrictions creating significant work to our recruiters and managers. We couldn’t send people to certain states that lived in “high risk” states for months. Even customers would add restrictions in addition to state requirements including testing, no one living in NYC or LA, and other limitations never managed before. After several adjustments to process, we learned how to tackle these limitations effectively…and most importantly, safely. My first travel in 9 months required pre-flight and arrival testing so I could return to MA after a couple days in Florida. There will continue to be restrictions well into 2021, and lessons learned here will no doubt continue for months to come.

Lesson #4 – Personal and Work Balance during a Pandemic

With no place to go, and nothing else to do, I found myself sitting at my work computer for 12 to 14 hours a day. Given the transformation of how we do our business, there was always plenty to do. However, it didn’t take long before I started to realize I wasn’t exercising, cooking good meals, cleaning, spending time with my husband, or doing much of anything for myself and family. In general, I was using work as an escape from the reality of quarantine, fears of Covid, and boredom of being off the road. I quickly created a a more regular routine in order to tackle this. Daily walks, lunch breaks, and evening online social hours became a norm. One friend started hosting a weekly zoom trivia night in late March, and still offers it some 9 months later. We started baking as a hobby and a major reorganization of storage and closets. For the most part, this routine continues today.

Lesson #5 – Staying out of Politics

2020 was a hard year to stay out of politics. We were faced with debates on Covid response management, the Presidential election, Black Lives Matter, riots, protests, looting…did I miss anything? Everyone had an opinion. Social media became a source of news for many, while the actual news ended up dividing many of us. The emotional stress and dealings of Covid was hard enough on its own, then add all these other events and issues. Early on I learned that my opinion did not align with many at work internally or externally. Comments meant to be “small talk” were inadvertently creating tension and distrust. I great mentor of mine years ago told me to always read the local paper where I was going before meeting with the client. Not traveling, I forgot these words of wisdom for a while…now I’m back to this great habit. So many other small talk items to read about and discuss include weather, sports, local events, customer successes, and so on.

What were some of your top lessons learned from 2020? Share your comments below.