Navigating the world of Epic consulting can be daunting when you do not know how the industry works. You may find yourself feeling like you are not getting the best opportunity you can, along with not fully understanding how to maximize your opportunities without selling yourself short. We at Honeydew Consulting believe in empowering fellow consultants with the knowledge they need to empower themselves to get what they deserve. With our “Demystify Epic Consulting” series, we hope to better prepare you to get what you deserve as an Epic consultant.
With more hospitals both implementing and using Epic as their primary EMR, there is a growing demand for Epic consultants, making it a lucrative and enticing transition from working as an analyst. However, moving from an analyst or IT position to consulting isn’t for everyone; it can be very rewarding, but also frightening. While you would still be working in the same field, you are working in vastly different worlds. Now, does this mean that it isn’t worthwhile or that you should be intimidated to consider it? Absolutely not. Just be sure that you have done your research and that you are prepared for the differences.
Application Experience and Expectations
Thinking about jumping ship? Before doing so, it is imperative that you are confident that you have a broad understanding of your application and are proficient in several key areas.
- Ideally a minimum 3 years of experience working with an Epic application
- Having go live, upgrade, and post go live support experience is a must
- Specialized knowledge of niche portions of the application are highly desirable
- Ex) Do you have an extensive charging background, or have you been involved in a specialized piece of your application (designing build, doing build, testing build), are you familiar with the data model of your application?
- Though not required, having a clinical background in addition to Epic experience is highly sought after.
- As a consultant, you are expected to jump right in and start working on your assigned tasks and projects, with the understanding that you will need to learn background information or historical information on your organization as you go. While you don’t have to have all of the answers immediately, it is understood that you have the capability to find answers or work out issues with little to no assistance.
The main items you will need to consider within your contract include the length of your contract, your pay, and the requirements for travel (We will discuss this in further detail on a future post)
- The biggest difference between an analyst/IT position and consulting is that you are a contract employee. The length of contract for projects can vary, with many initial contracts being 3-6 months with the option for extension. This is a fail-safe for organizations to be sure that consultants perform up to agreed upon standards.
- Being a contract employee means that you will need to be prepared for time between contracts (or bench time). Ideally, whenever your contract is ending, you would start a new project seamlessly; but, that does not always happen in the real world. You will need to be prepared to be able to pay your bills in between contracts.
- More often than not, the organizations that you are consulting for will not be in your neighborhood, so you will generally need to travel to work with them.
- Travel requirements vary widely from majority on-site to majority remote. You will need to make sure that you are comfortable with the amount of travel that is being asked of you before you sign a contract. Make sure that your family is prepared for the time you will be away from home working.
- Make sure you are prepared to pay for your initial travel out-of-pocket. You will be reimbursed for travel, but you will also be required to keep your travel within pre-determined parameters for cost and potentially even distance from the organization.
- Depending on whether you decide to go it alone as a consultant or choose a consulting agency to work with, your access to benefits like health insurance and retirement will vary widely. Make sure you do your research to find out what benefits will or will not be available to you. You may need to budget for paying for health insurance out-of-pocket or may need to work with a financial manager to set up retirement, if it is not available to you from your consulting agency.
- Most contracts don’t allow for PTO, so be prepared for only getting paid for the hours that you are working. Time off is essential for mental health, so take the time to plan vacations, including saving up for the time you’ll be taking off since you won’t get paid.
Unless specified, you will not be traveling every week for the duration of your contract, meaning you will often be working from home.
- Are you prepared to work alone and stay on task for your projects? If you don’t already have a process for budgeting time and staying on task, you will need to find one. You will be responsible for timely completion of your tasks and projects. You are your own boss to a large extent which can give you a wonderful sense of freedom, but that also means that the buck stops with you.
- You will likely be working with your organization via teleconferencing, so you will need a quiet, dedicated workspace planned out to do so. Make sure that you have all of the equipment you need to make yourself efficient and successful. Whether that is a docking station with multiple monitors or a sit-to-stand station or a landline so you don’t have to try to zoom on your cell phone. Making yourself happy and efficient will show in the work you provide to your clients.
While the world of consulting may be different from the analyst/IT world in a hospital or clinic, the key drivers of success; hard work, troubleshooting skills, communication skills, knowledge-base, and teamwork will still be what drive you forward and make you successful as a consultant. You will find many differences in the consulting world, but you will also find that many things are very similar to the place from which you came.
Bringing your unique background and knowledge-base to assist organizations with implementation or improvement of their systems is very rewarding and these organizations are often grateful for your help. Former Epic employees have a lot to offer as consultants, but so do analysts as their background clinical knowledge is a very desirable trait in a consultant in addition to their Epic experience.
For any questions on making the jump to consulting (regardless of application), feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.