Project vs Application Support…a shift in Staffing Demands

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Many of us started our consulting careers in Healthcare IT supporting an EHR implementation.  My first engagement was rolling out Epic from facility to facility for over 2 years.  In fact almost all my engagements were either a full install, a Community Connect project or a new facility roll out. Then I started to see more opportunities beginning to appear that were optimization and/or process improvement project type of work.  A ton of KPI driven project efforts and specific system enhancement projects were popping up everywhere.  It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve seen a new type of opportunity coming over, straight forward application management support…a significant shift from project work, and a rather interesting change in staffing demand worth talking about.

Almost all employers, across most industries, are facing staffing issues.  Those issues span across shortage of qualified candidates, retention of staff, utilization/performance, and increasing costs. The shift in demand to provide day to day system support is starting to tackle some of these challenges our clients are facing.  By using consultants to cover day to day needs including ticket management, quick fixes, or even upgrades, clients can keep their staff busy on project work.  I have a colleague who always says, “Let your team do the sexy work and we’ll take on the rest.”  This type of model can help with retaining and developing staff, not to mention improve staff moral and team culture all the while making sure ticket backlog doesn’t become an issue and impact end users.

In interviewing several candidates over the last few weeks almost all the opportunities being presented to them are to provide backfill to team members so the client’s full time employees can support various initiatives and project work.  While ticket management certainly isn’t “sexy,” it can be very fulfilling work as a consultant. I always think we are directly supporting end users, improving end user satisfaction and helping the client directly see the benefits of their EHR investment. That’s why I became a consultant.   

Some will argue that application support has been an offering for some time via Managed Services.  I’ll agree, some clients have outsourced their system maintenance and application support to Managed services firms.  Many of you may have agreed to work in a call center setting, but I’ve found most of these efforts are supported by full time employees and the firm’s contract durations are for years, not months. As a consultant many of us are not ready to go full time, as we still enjoy the variations of client support needs.

Application Managed Services (AMS) seems to be what more and more clients are discussing today.  It’s a perfect merge of the traditional staff augmentation support with portions of Managed Services that are cost effective and can be customized in every way to the clients need.  The client can request specific tier level support, focus on all or some applications, request specific service lines agreements (SLAs), and maintain ownership of their governance and change management processes.  While Managed Services often includes telephony, ticket management systems (TMS), and other bells and whistles…not all clients are looking for that level of support, so AMS seems a better fit. 

As consultants we are faced with more and more choices as staffing challenges continue.  While I know I loved the excitement of a go-live and the longer duration projects associated with an install, I also know I enjoy helping end users be successful.  Application support is going to be another option for us more and more.  Are there still upcoming implementations?  For sure there are…as well as plenty of optimization project support efforts. It’s a great time to be a consultant, we have a ton of options and now AMS could be another engagement to consider for your next consulting adventure.

2 Comments on “Project vs Application Support…a shift in Staffing Demands

  1. OMG!!!! this is so funny I’ve been thinking about optimization and support type projects lately.. I too feel this is a great time to be in the EMR Consulting world


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