Consultants Don’t Want Your Job, But We Do Need Your Help

If you’ve been employed at a hospital or health system during the past decade, chances are you’ve worked with or at least encountered an outside consultant or consulting team.
Maybe you saw us roaming the halls or hunched over our laptops in conference rooms. Maybe we shadowed your day-to-day work to see what you do. Or maybe we trained you and your peers on a new software system.
Some of you welcome us with open arms and open minds, but others may resent us, viewing our work as an intrusion or threat.  Believe me, I understand both perspectives.
From Clinician to Consultant
You see, I’ve worked in health IT for 15 years, including 8 years as a consultant, but I started my career on the clinical side, working as a Radiographer and later as an Ultrasound tech. A large-scale EHR project at our hospital was my introduction to IT consultants and frankly, I felt a little uneasy about working alongside these outsiders who were asking a lot of probing questions about my job.
I was the clinical expert, but I worried that the consultants were smarter than me, or worse, that my employer might be trying to replace me.
Of course, neither of those things were true. But I can still appreciate the apprehension that some employees feel when consultants arrive on the scene.
You might question why your hospital needs consultants in the first place? Why don’t they just hire full-time employees or promote from within to get the job done? Those are fair questions and the answers are usually straightforward. In my experience, I’m hired by your employer for one of these reasons:
1) I have specialized skills you or your department may not have in house
2) I bring a trusted ‘outside’ perspective having worked on similar projects at other health systems
3) Your employer needs more resources on a short-term basis to meet a critical deadline or to complete a project
Working Toward the Same Goals
Rest assured that consultants don’t come onsite with the intent of taking your job. We love what we do and know that we are hired as interim experts to help your organization meet its objectives for a given software project.
The truth is that we achieve the best outcomes when we work with you, and not against you or around you.  So how do we do that when both sides may be apprehensive about working together? Here are some of my thoughts for improving collaboration and trust between consultants and employees.

Organizations should be transparent about why – and when – consultants are coming on board. If appropriate, involve staff in the screening and hiring process. If employees feel blindsided or anxious, they should feel comfortable voicing concerns to higher ups, so they are not taking it out on the consultants.

Thoughtful on-boarding that helps consultants get up to speed and feel integrated into a team as quickly as possible helps all...