Speak Out: Have you ever hired or considered hiring a practice consultant?

November 1, 2009

Urologists discuss the issue of hiring practice consultants.

Consultants have a role, but most do nothing but give you generic advice. It's still your business. You can't dump difficult decisions on consultants.

You're going to make mistakes, but, then, so will consultants. They tend to make decisions that will bring them more business, and not necessarily in the best interest of your business."

"Earlier in my career, we hired a consultant to facilitate a merger with another group. Overall, it was a benefit.

Whenever a consultant is hired, there may not be a concrete endpoint in terms of benefit. It's hard to quantify the benefit. We saw some subtle benefit, although perhaps not in all the areas we had hoped. From a suggestive standpoint, we learned a number of things, and most of us felt there was some benefit."

Young Han Kim, MD
Providence, RI

"I haven't been anywhere where they hired a consultant, but I wish we would. Starting out, I don't know as much about coding and documentation as I would like.

Coding, EMR... if we had everything efficient and integrated, I'd feel that I could worry more about what I was trained to do, instead of worrying over coding and documentation. So I wish we did have a consultant to help put the whole system together."

Christopher T. Arett, MD
Belleville, IL

"We hired a consultant about 6 years ago when we transitioned to EMR. Looking at how to choose an EMR was an overwhelming task to undertake on our own.

[The consultants] were helpful for that. Dealing with differing ages and computer skills, we had to go easily at first. They were instrumental in getting computers into every doctor's hands and slowly moving things toward point-of-care documentation.

We considered the option of bringing them back to handle other things, such as strategic planning, but that never panned out. Our managing partner has taken that on. Consultants are expensive, and it can be difficult to determine your gain versus your expense.

Also, practicing in a rural area, consultants are so far away that there is an issue with timeliness of availability if we had a major issue.

Our senior partner has strong leadership capabilities, but if you don't have that, practices might want to consider outside help because it's hard running an effective business while being a busy clinician."

Donald L. Spicer, MD
Paducah, KY