Hiring an information technology consultant almost always comes down to one of three needs for a health care organization, according to Ted Reynolds, vice president at consultancy CTG Health Solutions. An organization needs expertise it doesn't have in-house; or somebody to drive an independent decision through the organization; or short-term labor to finish a project.

Sometimes the reason to hire a consultant is a combination of all three needs. In a large electronic health records implementation, the vendor often will teach users about one-third of what they really need to know, Reynolds says. A consultant who already helped with strategy can fill in the training blanks to shorten the learning curve, and do so with a smaller force than the vendor, he asserts. "The hardest thing to make up on a project is time."

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