Habush Habush and Rottier

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Consulting is better than Epic

I got some comments from a reader that are worth sharing in their own post. I had intended to broach this subject at some point, I just hadn't gotten to it yet.

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I think what this blog is missing is some advice about how to select a consulting company, as well as reasons why consulting is so much better than working for Epic itself. Allow me to share some of my thoughts. Feel free to use this in a post and edit it as you see fit. [Will do. Thanks.-ed.]

On why consulting beats working at Epic:
Paid hourly vs. salary
Epic billed me out at a very high hourly rate to the customer, but only a small percentage of the money I brought in was paid to me in salary. With consulting, although I am billing at a slightly lower rate, I keep much more of it, resulting in my making more money.

No more unpaid overtime
At Epic it was expected that you worked over 40 hours a week, with 50-60 during on site weeks commonplace, and even higher for a go-live. I felt guilty when I “only” worked 40 hours a week at Epic, since the culture was to overachieve and work harder than the person next to you. I also felt pressure to check e-mail on weekends and keep myself available at all times in case someone needed to ask a question. This overtime was unpaid and rarely rewarded, since there were always people willing to put in more hours than me, and I would be compared unfavorably to them. With consulting, I get paid for every single hour I work. With my current contract, I'm not even allowed to work more than 40 hours per week without special permission. This reduction in working hours will lead to a better work/life balance.

No internal work
At Epic I had my customer obligations, but I was also expected to devote a lot of time to internal projects like the model system, team meetings, and work groups devoted to improving internal processes. I rarely enjoyed this. I always felt it took away from time I could spend doing customer work. Also, your reputation at Epic depended largely on how much internal work you did, since it was more visible to your application team. With consulting, I will focus 100% on the customer with no internal distractions.

Pre-set contract lengths
At Epic I was staffed on the same customer for over two years. Things seemed to drag on and on, with no clear resolution. Even after a site went live there was still a list of issues to work on, on top of planning for the next site to go live. There was no such thing as a “closed loop,” since work done a year ago could rear its head at any time, forcing me to re-explain everything to people who may not have been on the project at that time. Even if decisions were documented perfectly this could lead to re-hashing old debates and wasting time. With consulting, I may only be at a hospital for a short period of time. I will be brought in to work on a specific set of issues and projects, rather than the daunting, all-encompassing Epic job description of “owning the success of the entire implementation.” I will be given clear tasks and will be able to produce tangible results. When I'm finished, I will move on to the next customer. Or my contract can be renewed, but only if mutually agreed upon. This renewal process every 6 months or so gives extra leverage when negotiation vacation time.

Ability to choose customer location
Because of the high demand for Epic certified project managers, I'll be able to focus on (or avoid) contracts in certain customer regions. At Epic, you went where they told you to go, for as long as you were needed. If the customer was two flights away plus a two hour drive in a rental car to the middle of nowhere, that's just too bad.

Freedom to live anywhere in the country
Epic required you to live in Madison. With consulting, I can choose to base myself out of any city in America and fly to the customer site. This not only gives me more flexibility, it allows me to have a more balanced personal life since I won't be in a city populated seemingly entirely by other Epic employees.

Time off between contracts
At Epic, I got two weeks paid vacation in each of my first two years. I would have gotten three in my third year had I not quit. Although this is standard practice in the US, I believe it is unhealthy and unsustainable. Countries in Europe have a much more balanced view of holidays. At Epic you theoretically had the option of unpaid time off, but I don't know anyone who wasn't pregnant that actually tried to get it. To truly be able to take a significant amount of time off, you need to quit. With consulting, I can take as much time off as I want between contracts. Also, as opposed to quitting a company and finding a new one, there is no drama or stress in winding down your current contract and taking your time before accepting another one.

Never being staffed on multiple customers
At Epic, some IS people were staffed on up to 4 customers at once. I don't know how they possibly managed it. With consulting, I am contracted directly to the hospital so I'll never have to balance customer loads.

Bottom Line
At Epic, as with most salaried positions, you are pretty much owned by the company. You go where they need you when they tell you, and you work as many hours as it takes to get the job done. They decide how much to pay you and what your bonuses are. You need permission to take vacations. With consulting, you get to call the shots. Before you even interview the recruiters ask what hourly rate you require, then they work on your behalf to get it. You decide where to live, and where to work. If the client needs you to work overtime, they need to pay you for every additional hour. There's no more trying to make yourself look better and politically maneuver yourself to a better position in the company. I never had a taste for that sort of thing and wasn't very good at it anyway. Fortunately, as a consultant there's no time for that. Since you're paid hourly, all that matters is the task in front of you and the results you can create for the customer. It's less hassle, and more freedom.

On finding a good consulting company:
I would put your resume on Monster and let the head hunters contact you. Make sure you include the important keywords like "Epic certified builder, consultant, trainer, etc…” Also list the names of the applications you’re certified in.
There are dozens of these guys whose whole living is to scour the internet looking for suitable candidates, so you'll probably start receiving a ton of e-mails and phone calls as soon as you do this. Some of these guys are shady though, so here is a little bit of advice for dealing with them:

-Remember that you are in control of these conversations. You're not applying to work with a consulting company; they're applying to represent you. They are pretty much just middle men who make their living off of your hard work, so no need to suck up to them.

-Make sure you have a good idea of what hourly rate you're looking for ($60-$100/hr depending on where you work) and what area of the country you want to work in.

-Decide whether you're looking for a full time salaried or hourly contract position. I prefer hourly contract since you make more money. Also, you have pre-set contract lengths so if you want to take a couple months off between contracts you can do so without the drama of having to quit your job. Just let the contract expire.

-Only deal with preferred consulting companies that deal with clients directly. There are some guys who act as middlemen and refer you to a consulting company, who then submit you to a client.

-There are several different ways to work for a consulting company. Some want you to become a salaried employee of theirs. This comes with full benefits and “bench pay”, which means you get paid between client obligations. I prefer working on a contract to contract basis and remaining more independent. It's really your personal preference. Benefits are usually always offered if you're full time, but many companies now offer benefits to hourly employees as well.

-Don't ever provide references to a headhunter or consulting company unless it is required by the client as part of a submittal. They just use these as more leads to recruit people you know.

-Never let a company submit your name to a client without your expressed written permission. Once you are submitted to a client, they will usually not deal with you if your name is submitted by another consulting company. Also make sure you get final approval over any alterations to your resume before it's submitted. If any company does either of those things, stop dealing with them immediately.

-Before signing anything ask about their non-compete agreement. Most (reputable) companies will say that you can't work for the same client through any other consulting companies. However a couple of shady ones say you can't work for any of their clients through any other company. Don't sign with them.

Anyway, those are just a few tips. I currently work for one of the larger firms, but for a previous contract I worked for a smaller local company and had a very positive experience, so don't count out the smaller firms (just ask around a bit first).

~~~

Thanks, AnonymIS. I can add a couple of notes on this last section. As soon as you put your resume on the job sites (Monster, Dice, etc), your phone will start ringing, almost certainly within the hour. Your email will explode. There's no avoiding that. A good sign of a trustworthy consulting firm is that they'll call you, talk to you like a real human being, and then follow that up with a personal email. A lot of firms appear to outsource their calling to India and send form emails that aren't always formatted correctly--you can tell where the placeholders for your name are, and where they didn't get filled in appropriately.  Avoid these companies. You can afford to be picky.

The legitimate companies know about the non-compete. They'll call you early on to get their name in your head, and then they'll call you every couple of months to check up on you. If you're not getting this kind of personal attention, keep looking for a better firm to represent you.

I've worked with a couple of companies since leaving Epic--one for my non-compete year, and one since. Leave a comment with your email address if you'd like recommendations for some of the better consulting firms, for both the non compete year and after.

92 comments:

  1. Shameless plug, so I realize I may get moderated out by our trusted host. :)

    The company I work for is an excellent choice for people who used to work at Epic and have served out their non-compete agreement following departure. We’re based in Madison and comprised 100% of former-Epic employees, so we definitely “get it” and know what you’re going through. In fact, that’s exactly why we started this company… there is way too much shadiness in this industry and we were tired of it. You’ll know what we’re billing the clients, and what we’re paying you. We try to be very transparent. Plus we offer a generous benefits package.

    www.vonlay.com

    We meet all the requirements and recommendations listed ^above^. We pay generous hourly rates, we have clients all over the country, and we’re VERY consultant-friendly. Again, we were all in your same shoes not long ago. We aren’t Epic haters – we’re looking for people who liked Epic software and liked Epic the company, but just needed a change for whatever reason.

    We are big enough to know what we’re doing, but not so big that you don’t have a personal connection to the firm. We’re based in Madison and many (though not all) of our consultants live here. Many of our people come to the office frequently to work remotely, or just say hi. We’re not a middle-man or anything like that – we have partnerships with our clients and they see us as a trusted partner – they often ask us for high-level consulting or development work in addition to the normal “staff augmentation” that is the norm these days. (though we do a lot of that too). There are opportunities for travelers, remote services, and combinations thereof.

    And with regards to another post on this blog – we welcome people from pretty much any role from Epic! (Not just Implementation). TS, Dev, and QA’ers make AWESOME consultants… in fact they’re better than IS in some ways. (I can say that because I was IS at Epic :) )

    If interested, contact me and we can discuss!

    casey@vonlay.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Re: Vonlay:
    These guys should be on your short-list. As Casey states, they're local to Madison, which is extremely convenient. They know Epic, they treat you like real people, and they've placed people all over the nation.

    They interviewed me, and I'd be with them now, but for the fact that a different consulting firm placed me faster.

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  3. From a reader: edited to remove email address.

    I don't understand the Epic non-compete agreement. I am not an Epic employee but am working at a hospital that had implemented Epic and will be implementing more Epic modules over the next 5 years. I have 2 Epic certifications and went through 2 implementations at the hospital. I interviewed with 3 consulting companies who all were ready to hire me but then stopped and said they couldn't hire me because my hospital is in an active Epic implementation state. I don't understand what the Epic consulting company agreement with Epic has to do with me. I'm not an Epic employee so how can Epic say they can't hire me? Are there any consulting companies that would hire me? Would I have to leave my company and take a non-Epic job to get out of this non-compete - and how long would I have to wait?....ANY advice is much appreciated.

    ~~~~
    What I know:
    Epic's customers and certain consulting firms sign an agreement saying that they won't hire anyone from a customer site that is in an active implementation phase, or within 90 days of an active implementation phase. So even though you don't work for Epic or a consulting firm, the other entities' agreements with Epic prevent them from hiring you.

    It's a load of legal bollocks, but the threat keeps companies from acting on it. You just have to find a company willing to disregard the unenforceable non-compete.

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  4. I was curious what their protocol is with working with fired employees after the 1 year contract is up. I left after getting axed, it never really came up during my interviews. However, I found out that my Epic counterpart is and has been in close contact with my AM for a long time (good friends). Should I be worried?

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    1. From my own, personal experience, it hasn't been an issue at all so far. It's actually been helpful at times--my current employer's (former) TS is an experienced guy that I worked with when I was in Verona. He trusts me to run some utilities that would require him to get an RA--it speeds up fixes when he doesn't have to do that.

      Conversely, the current TS is pretty new. I struggle at times with the lack of SLGoogle--we'll have an issue that I sort-of remember seeing other customers had, but my current TS can't find the SLGs with the fix.

      In answer to your question though--no changes in protocol after the non-compete is up, at least for non-compete non-violators. You're just another analyst at the customer site, maybe a bit savvier technically than some others, but with less working knowledge of actual clinic practice.

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  5. This is a great post and valuable information for a recruiter to understand what is important in the eyes of an Epic consultant. I can say that most of these are things I've tried to comply with my entire career, but there are definitely a few things I'm going to emphasize moving forward.

    I work for a division of Direct Technology that focuses solely within the Epic space. We strive to do things the "right way" because we know that building long-term relationships and treating our consultants in a positive manner is the only way we will continue to grow.

    I'm going to be in Madison next week during UGM and we are hosting an event at Johnny Delmonico's. I would enjoy extending an invite to anyone interested in learning more about our practice and discussing how we might be able to assist the next time you are looking for a project.

    Thanks, Tracy Shock
    tshock@directtechnology.com

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  6. Hello There,

    I am Microsoft Business Intelligence Consultant who is planning to make a switch to EPIC so obviously I don't have any EPIC certifications as you'd imagine. I was wondering if you can throw some light on my situation and point me in a direction so I can get the training and then certification and eventually start working in EPIC controlled world.

    Thanks much.

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    1. Well, it'll be an uphill battle. Epic is a pretty closed shop. At one time, so I'm told, consulting firms could send their consultants directly to Epic to get certified. Epic now prohibits that. There are only two ways to get certified that I know of.

      1: Get a job at Epic. If you're not a recent college grad, forget about it for reasons I've addressed in other posts.

      2: Get a job at a customer site, and the customer sponsors your Epic certification. This is easier, but still fraught with challenges. It's better if you take a full time position with the client (i.e., not a consulting position)--they will be less concerned about paying to have you certified only to have you jump ship to more lucrative positions after that. That is an epidemic problem.

      My advice then, if you really want to go Epic, is to apply directly to the healthcare organizations, and work in a permanent position for them. Do this because it's an organization you like and agree with, not because Epic and dollar signs appear next to each other on the job boards. They'll certify you, and they'll get a return on their investment in the form of you working for them for a number of years. Few customers will pay to get a contractor certified--someone that they'll only have for a year or less.

      Some contracting firms (and clients who use them) will use non-Epic certified consultants as floor-support during go-lives. This lets people put "epic experience" on their resume, but the nature of that experience always comes out in the interview process, and that kind of experience isn't what build teams or support teams are looking for. If you're certified, floor support is excellent experience. If you're not certified, the experience isn't worth a sack of beans.

      My own experience with the process: We have three tiers of analysts at the organization I work for. Tiers 2 and 3 require epic-certifications. Tier 1 does not. We've hired former end users (e.g., MAs, RNs) to the Tier 1 position. They do some Epic build (hyperspace only, for those interested). Tier 2 does more Epic build (text and Hyperspace), and Tier 3 does troubleshooting and support. We've hired folks off the street, provided they had an applicable tech background (other EMRs, IT project management experience, etc) to Tier 1. We've promoted Tier 1 folks to Tier 2 and 3, at which point they got sent to Epic to be certified. It's a long path, but it's a path if this is something you really want to pursue.

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    2. so what about an Epic certified person with little experience. who is your company?

      Delete
  7. Seems like there are some pretty stringent conditions attached to the Epic customer team as well according to HIStalk (http://histalk2.com/2012/11/03/monday-morning-update-11512/)

    "You can hire an Epic customer’s project team employee only if you don’t assign them any Epic-related work for two years, and they are considered to be a project team employee until three months after go-live."

    Also to whoever is the admin of this site, have you ever considered creating a forum associated with this site? I was thinking of a place where people can submit Epic related rumors/news as well as for Epic folks to give their side of the story to PR fiascos (Contra Costa comes to mind).

    ReplyDelete
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    1. reposting the url so you can click on it: http://histalk2.com/2012/11/03/monday-morning-update-11512/)

      Every point on that list sounds exactly like Epic. The people in Wisconsin's Department of Labor Development all agree that those stipulations are 99.9% unenforceable, but fear seems to keep Epic's customers in line. Until there's a highly publicized lawsuit, I doubt it will change.

      I don't know enough about website creation and management (I use blogspot/blogger/whatever-it's-called-now because it's easy) to create a forum. I've kind of been treating the comments section as such--If you have some knowledge about setting that up, send me a comment (I won't publish it) and I'll try to make it happen.

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  8. Hello,

    I just got an offer to be an Implementation Consultant and I liked the company and facilities, but I wasn't thrilled about it. I'm just trying to decide if I should take it and mostly want to know if working there for a couple years would open up a lot of opportunities. I don't really know enough about the industry to know if Epic experience is very valuable. Based on this post, it sounds like it would set you up well for future consulting jobs.

    Thanks

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    1. I tell people that Epic is a horrible place to work, but it's a great place to have worked at. An Epic certification combined with good interview skills will open up lots of opportunities for you later, but you won't have any kind of life while you're at Epic.

      EMRs are pretty much mandated by the government now--if hospitals don't have an EMR they'll face stiff financial penalties in a couple years. Because of that, it's (in the short term, at least) a recession-proof industry. I think by now all 50 states have hospitals using Epic (if it's not 50, it's at least 47), and Epic has a foothold in Europe and the Middle East as well.

      You'll be able to write your own ticket to anywhere you want if you take the job. However, as an implementer, you'll never be home; if you're married, you'll never see your family because when you are home you'll be working 60+ hours a week; you'll be underpaid while working at Epic as compared to the rest of the software industry. I don't want to discourage anyone from working at Epic necessarily, but I do want them to enter that workforce with both eyes open.

      Delete
    2. I wrote the original post about Epic < Consulting. My advice to you is to take the job. Keep your head down for two years, get certified in as many applications as possible, and try not to rock the boat too much. Don't kill yourself trying to work harder than everyone else on your team (this is impossible) but don't be the worst guy either. Then as soon as you've been there for two years, QUIT. Try to save some money and see the world during your non-compete year. Go backpacking around Europe, Asia, or Australia. Then come back and get a consulting gig making $200,000 per year. At that point you can write your own ticket.

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    3. But do you think Epic skills will still be in demand in 2015 for consulting positions once MU ends and everyone has EHRs already?

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    4. Absolutely, but the contracts won't necessarily be the implementation-related ones that they've been in the past. It's one thing to install a system as complicated as Epic is; it's quite another to keep it up to date and running. [prediction] Support and troubleshooting skills will be in higher demand in the future, and implementation skills, while in less demand, will still be required for enhancements and upgrades. [/prediction]

      Delete
  9. Thanks
    I think I'm gonna take it and use it to get certified and experience, then leave in a year or so. Hopefully, the industry keeps growing or stays strong for a while longer. Is there any way to not work that much or is pretty much required?

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    1. Work hard enough to meet your customer obligations. They're relying on you. Now that I'm working at a customer site, it's the most frustrating thing in the world to have disinterested Epic support. Lack of epic support can cause patient harm, and that's bad. Don't go in there planning to do as little as possible.

      My first boss out of college gave me the best piece of advice I ever got about working in an unenjoyable job: "I know this isn't where you want to be, but it is where you are NOW. Do the job to the best of your ability, and use it as a stepping stone to something better."

      In answer to your questions: yeah, it's pretty much required. You can probably shirk Epic projects, but I'd have a low opinion of you if you shirked customer obligations.

      Delete
  10. Does anyone know what the "rule" is regarding switching from FTE to consulting? I'm currently a FTE at a hospital that is implementing Epic at several facilities. We're approximately at the half-way mark but I am desperately seeking a way into the consulting world. There have been numerous broken promises by the hospital. In addition, I'm making significantly less than FTE's at other facilities so I'm ready to leave.

    I have talked to several companies who have all told me that because they are Epic partners they can not take a FTE from a project 90 days before or after a go-live. I did speak to a recruiter from a rather large company that is not an Epic partner and was told that I am free to work with them whenever. The company seems legit. In fact, they have a rather large presence on linked in and I don't see any complaints so I'm pretty confident it's ok. I was just wondering if there are any consequences I would face from Epic as a FTE? Is it true that you can get blacklisted or your certification be voided? Does Epic block your access to userweb? I have heard so many stories but I have no one to confirm these things with so I'm confused.

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    1. All I've got is rumors as well. See this post.

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    2. I think the "black list" only applies to former Epic employees who try to become customer consultants before their one year non-compete is up.

      If you're already an FTE at a customer, you can jump ship to a consulting company as long as that company doesn't currently have any consultants at your hospital (or they'd be considered poaching). The good news is there are tons of companies out there, so just look for one in a different region. See OP's post about which companies to watch out for.

      I'd say go for one of the non-Epic partnered companies for your first gig, but don't tell anyone at your current job about your plans. Then for your next gig you can jump ship and work for anyone. Don't let Epic intimidate you.

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  11. As a consultant, what do you feel is the best certification to have under Epic? i.e.- which one will open more job opportunities for you in the future.

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    1. They're all good to have. There's a big demand right now for Epiccare Ambulatory and probably Epiccare Inpatient due to Meaningful Use. In a few years though, that demand will probably die down. If you want implementations, that's the way to go. If you want to do support, any certification will be worthwhile.

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    2. Thanks for the insight. Where can I go to find out more about Epic? Seems as though I've been going around in circles. Tried Wiki already. I'm moore interested in building more than anything but don't have sufficient information to make an educated career path. What does building entail, etc, etc?

      Delete
    3. Epic plays its cards very close to its chest (otherwise their employment practices might get out, and that would be terrible), so information online is scant.

      Your career path will vary depending on what part of the path you're on right now. For fresh out of college graduates who scored high on standardized tests, you might want to apply directly to Epic. You'll get certified in an application of Epic's choice, and as many applications of your choice as you have time for.

      If you've been working in the real world for a while, you'd do better to apply directly to one of Epic's clients. If you have no healthcare experience, the IT help desk is as good a place to start as any, although some places will hire people with no epic experience directly to build positions, provided they have other IT or healthcare experience.

      What does a builder do? That depends on the organization. Generally, they go to individual clinics or hospital units, analyze the end users' workflows, and then build the tools necessary to do that in Epic. In three words: "analysis" and "data entry."

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    4. I currently work for an Health Management Company - Provider/Payer side and I am interested in working as a consultant doing Epic go-lives do you know which companies will place you w/no epic experience?

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    5. Epic consulting is competitive. Consultants are typically hired for their ability to hit the ground running and complete a project. With no experience, you won't hit the ground running, you'll just hit the ground (splat).

      A better career path might be to apply for a full-time position as an analyst. Get your experience there, then jump ship to consulting after a few years.

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  12. What is typical pay for HB/PB consultant who has 8 years experience in Epic?

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    1. Glassdoor.com probably has the information you need. You'll need to search by consulting company name, most likely.

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  13. Does anyone else see the need for consultants lowering in a couple years? I have been doing consulting now for a few years and have noticed a lot of companies (mine included) flooding the market with consultants. I was just getting another certification this past November and had 5 people from my company alone in my class. I understand there will always be a need for support and enhancements, but this will definitely not match the current demand for certified consultants. I am on the opposite ship of some people here, I plan on finding a FTE role in the next couple years. The logistics of supply and demand will eventually come into play and the compensation for consulting services will begin to decrease.

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    1. I'm of the same opinion, for what that's worth. Consulting is great, and with Meaningful Use still in full implementation mode, there's plenty of work to be had. However, as soon as everyone is live on an EMR, there will probably be a lot fewer consulting gigs to be had. The sooner you can get in a permanent position, the better off you'll be. In a few years, you'll have to compete with that many more applicants for the same positions.

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    2. I am *very* curious about this myself. I left Epic last summer, and although I'm happy in a new full time position right now doing IT support, I have thought about leaving this role for the big bucks in consulting. It's tough because I'm faced with the dilemma of kick starting a new career or going back to something I thought I was done with.

      I would ask the following questions to consulting firms that have reached out to me, but I think we all know what kind of answers I'd get. I would very much appreciate if someone here could help--

      When do you all think the flow of implementations will start to taper off? And, if anyone knows or can guess, what will compensation for permanent, long-term support/enhancement positions look like?

      Thank you in advance!

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    3. @Anon 1/2/13, 9:54pm
      --The big wave of implementations started a while ago, and my gut says it'll begin to taper off in the second half of 2014. Penalties for not having an EMR kick in starting in 2015, so folks are trying to get their systems in place before then. /conjecture

      The goal of my employer is not so much to get the incentive money from MU but specifically to avoid penalties. If we get everything in place in time enough to get bonus bucks, Great! but it's not the goal.

      As for compensation, it is my understanding that state-supported (and possibly university-supported) hospitals publicly list the salaries and compensation for each position for public oversight/disclosure. State hospitals have better hours, benefits, and work/life balance (according to my boss), but private/for-profit hospitals pay more.

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  14. Please feel free to reach out to us at Vonlay and we can discuss the industry with you and help navigate through some of your questions! thanks - Casey casey@vonlay.com

    And continued thanks to the admins of this site for providing a forum for people to ask these questions.

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  15. This has been SUCH a helpful post/forum. I started Epic consulting about a year ago and only plan to stay a couple more years because I'm sure demand will die down soon.

    I love the hospital I'm helping right now because I see that they appreciate every drop of work and counsel I'm giving them. However, I am not getting any new certifications with them outside of the Security cert I came with - and I'm not being challenged that much to learn new info. But they keep requesting to extend my contract (they have 24 large hospitals being rolled out on all apps). Can anyone weigh in on which of the following is my better option/ more feasible:

    1) Stay with them but request a raise to compensate for the certs/ knowledge I'm missing out on elsewhere? or

    2) Leave and continue rotating to new clients to gain varied experience and possibly negotiate a cert in a new application?

    Just not sure if it's appropriate to ask for a raise after working with the same client for a year now.. about to extend my contract again and don't want to be lazy because I'm comfortable :/

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    1. Hopefully someone else can chime in. I was a consultant for as brief a time as possible--I wanted the security of a full time, permanent position more than obscene amounts of money (but that was really nice while it lasted).

      Talk to your pimp at the consulting firm--they may be able to send you for more certifications, or at least offer some advice on the matter.

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    2. Can you tell me who sponsor your NVT renewal? The customer site or your consulting company? thanks,

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    3. @ 6/29/13 11:04 pm:

      I've taken NVTs as both consultant and FTE--in both cases, the healthcare organization sponsored the NVT, not the consulting firm. I had to jump through some hoops to get the NVTs from Epic after finishing the non-compete. You probably learned this at Epic, but document everything. A coworker of mine had to retake the certification tests (not just the NVTs) because Epic "lost" his records.

      For brand new certifications, I've seen it done both ways--sponsored by consulting firm and by hospital.

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  16. Hello,

    First off, I want to take the time and thank you for creating this blog, It has been extremely helpful for a fresh graduate like me.

    I have a few concerns regarding the "future-proofing" of this field and consulting in particular. Are the high paying consulting jobs going to dry up in 2 years and beyond?

    I just recently graduated with a business undergrad (and otherwise irrelevant degree to IT) and was emailed by Epic for Technical services position because they saw my resume on a career site. I finished their Rembrandt portrait test and am waiting on a response from Epic.

    I was very interested in HCIT because of 2 friends in the field that are making good money while consulting and would like to follow that path.

    If I get hired by Epic and stay for 2 years and look for better options afterwards (2015),will there still be a good chance at a long term consulting position or is the demand for EMR going to be greatly reduced?

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's my conjecture. Consulting is banging right now because of the government handouts associated with Meaningful Use. Once that dries up (in about two years or so), everyone who was thinking about implementing an EMR will have done so.

      If you're looking at consulting going from implementation to implementation, you might have missed the boat. However, all these customers who are currently implementing are going to need long-term support. If that's more your thing, then you're going to be in high demand in a couple years. The support team at the customer I work for, for example, is about 75% consultant, 25% FTE. The main implementation team is the opposite, with extra consultants brought in on a project by project basis.

      Delete
  17. How do you keep up with NVTs when the new versions roll out? I've heard that a client could sponsor you but is that the truth?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One thing I learned at Epic was to keep a paper trail. Keep any email you've ever gotten from Epic regarding certifications or NVTs. Just in case.

      My own NVT story goes thusly: I waited out my non-compete year, then got an analyst job. The deadline for completing NVTs was either passed, or rapidly approaching. I emailed the NVT group, told them my story (waiting on non-compete, certified in this and that, need a deadline extension), and they were surprisingly accommodating. I had to jump through other hoops to get access to the NVTs for apps that my employer isn't licensed for, but Epic worked with me on those too. I had to pester them and send some strongly-worded emails a few times, but all my NVTs are current.

      I would be very surprised if they let a person currently non-competing take NVT tests, but once you're out of the non-compete and employed somewhere, there should not be any issues.

      Delete
  18. I agree that this is a great forum and am hoping that someone may have some advice for me. I am an RN with 20 years of clinical experience, my masters in Nursing management and a strong desire to get in with EPIC. However, I have no experience using EPIC. Do you think I have a chance at all at getting hired?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd say chances are slim. When I was there, I'd been out of college for two years, and I was one of the oldest people in my group of new hires. Epic practices age discrimination pretty openly--they couch it in terms of "it's easier to train someone with no experience than to un-teach someone bad habits."

      Your best bet is to apply for a technical position at a healthcare organization that's implementing an EMR. It doesn't really matter which one, a lot of the knowledge and experience is transferable. Regardless of what Epic values in its employees, hospitals themselves love to have folks with clinical experience on their application teams.

      Delete
  19. I suppose the creator of this post actually works at Vonlay. I find it very mysterious that only Vonlay has made a plug on here and miraculously it hasn't been deleted. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only reason that Vonlay's post is here is because they're the only ones that have responded. I have never worked for Vonlay. Nice try, though :)

      If any other consulting firms do want to plug themselves, add a comment. I'll even entertain the idea of selling ad space. (I ain't too proud.)

      Delete
    2. you proved me wrong by responding AND by leaving my post on here. Mea Culpa.

      Delete
  20. I'm working on an EPIC project and I'm planning on becoming a contractor very soon. I've been researching companies. What companies would you recommend?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Corporate Business Support Solution provides staff augmentation services,IT staffing Services with prompt response time in India and other countries including permanent,Temp and contract hiring services for corporate sectors.
    Overseas Recruitment Agencies

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi,

    I was a ambulatory TS for one year and my non-compete is expiring soon. I am a bit worried since most of the consulting candidates seem to be IS with 2-3 years of experience. Do you mind letting me know if you know of someone in a similar situation and how things turn out for them?

    ReplyDelete
  23. I was TS for not quite 3 years--you just have to sell the skills you have. Think of the projects you worked on while at Epic, your Guru areas of expertise, and sell that. If everywhere you look is requesting builders, tailor your resume and interview to emphasize the build you had to do to test new functionality, to install new modules post-IS rolloff, etc.

    Ultimately, implementations are going to dry up and all these places that were hiring build consultants are going to need people to maintain the system. If you are half-decent at interviews, you should be able to land a consulting gig somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  24. How do you get epic certified? I too am a nurse of two years and would like to get into the consulting business. Where do I start? I've looked at requirements and they all want some sort of certification. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Epic is a fairly closed shop.

      Is your current organization using Epic? Then do whatever it takes to get more exposure to the system. Become a superuser in the clinic, get access to the Epic UserWeb and study it like it's a midterm, and then apply for a position on their Epic IT team.

      If your employer isn't on Epic, you might want to find an organization that is using it, and get job there. Then follow the steps in the previous paragraph.

      In addition to my regular IT duties for my job, I also sit in on interviews. We've hired folks with no Epic experience, but they had comparable healthcare IT experience with other vendors. We've also hired former end users from within the organization, for example MAs or LPNs. I don't think we've hired any ex-clinical staff for an Epic position from outside the organization.

      Other organizations probably work differently, but that's how things have rolled here.

      Delete
  25. vonlay is def not that great at what they claim! i have worked with their consultants and their overbearring egos! look elsewhere

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm a current Epic employee looking to turn in my notice soon. I have 5+ years under my belt with several satisfied customers, so I'm hoping I won't have any issues with landing a consulting job after my non-compete. However, I was hoping someone in this can point me to the best opportunities for the non-compete year. I enjoy healthcare, so I'd prefer to stay in the industry. I've also heard that some of the Epic consulting firms help you look for opportunities during the non-compete. Is this true?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Start with Robert Half Technology in Middleton. They're used to staffing Epic folks for the non-compete years. When I left Epic, there was some pharmaceutical software company (whose name escapes me) in the same business park as Robert Half. They had no agreements with Epic, and had no problems hiring folks during the non-compete, if I remember correctly.

      The problem with that company is that they have an odd hiring practice, even compared to Epic. It's not so much an interview as a one or two day test drive, and it can be pretty short notice--at least that's how it worked a few years ago. Robert Half will call you, you'll head to the pharm for a day or two (and get paid for it), and then they'll tell you if you're hired or not.

      That's where my experience with Robert Half ends. I had better luck with Technisource (now Randstad) in Waukesha. They placed me with an Epic customer in an IT position that wasn't using Epic. See this post for more information, or leave a comment with your contact info. I can give you more specific information via email. As always, I won't publish comments with personal contact info.

      Delete
  27. Hey guys, Im not exactly sure where my post fit so I thought this might be the best place.

    I no long have a copy of my contract so I'm exactly sure what the non-compete specifies but I recently got an interview with GE. I know GE is on the list of companies you technically can't work for but I'm going into the medical device/engineering division which has nothing to do with EMR. I am still bound by the non-compete?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My gut says "No, you shouldn't be bound by the non-compete for that," but my gut doesn't have a law degree. Neither does my brain, so take my advice at your own risk. Full disclosure is usually the best policy, so I'd bring it up at the interview. GE's HR folks ought to know the full specifics of any agreements between GE and Epic.

      Delete
  28. Agreed this is a great forum!

    I am a software engineer by trade, but since 2010 have been doing 1-3 month long go lives as an implementation consultant while between web development projects. I have a credential in ClinDoc, but because I would only look for go-lives between other jobs, I have not amassed continual experience and missed the boat in getting a recruiter initiated certification (This is no longer, but back in the day, the recruiting company could send you for certs if they felt you would earn well for them). Also I no longer find staff training and go-live support rewarding. I would like to become a builder full time, being I have strong software engineering skills and a solid EPIC background. What would you recommend someone in my position do? I am supporting 2 more go lives in the next few months. Should I start whispering in the ear's of my PMs? Thank you for your advice!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am looking to be certified/credentialed, anything at this point. I have been a training specialist for several years and have a network of people who are looking to join the Epic Consultant world. I've done extensive research and cannot find anyone to "sponsor" me nor a recruiter with a "sponsorship" opportunity. (Any guidance is appreciated).

    Is there anything else I can do other than move to WI and apply for Epic? Is there a specific position at Epic you would recommend having a training background? I currently make around $70k.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you currently make $70,000, you're not going to get that starting at Epic. Unless things have changed since I was there, Epic doesn't hire people who already have experience working with the software. Your best bet is still to find the right mix of consulting firm and client that value the training experience you already have and are willing to invest in your growth. Good luck!

      Delete
  30. I am a recent college graduate (electrical engineering) and uI've recently received an offer from Epic to come on as a TS at 65k. They gave me the option of listing the areas I would prefer to go into. Which fields would be the most marketable for the future after leaving Epic? Is Epic truly as great of a stepping stone as it seems? I am more than willing to work long hours at a lower salary for a few years to set up my career.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I keep telling people that Epic is a terrible place to work, but a great place to have worked.

      Your comment is interesting about them giving you a choice (and your salary is 10k more than they offered me when I started--have their salaries gone up that high in just a couple years?); they just shoved me into an application. I don't remember them ever asking where my interests lay.

      For the time being at least, working at Epic for a few years then moving on to consulting or to full-time employment at a client site is still good for steady employment. I don't know how long that's going to last, though. Everywhere will need experienced ongoing support, so if that's what you want to do you'll be fine. If consulting for the mega dollars is more your thing, I think that's going to start drying up some.

      Delete
    2. As an electrical engineer, I don't really have any experience comparable to what I would be doing as a TS at Epic. Could you describe it as best as you can? Is it challenging? Interesting? Or just an exercise in patience. This isn't my only offer. I just want to make sure that I make the right choice and find a career that I enjoy.

      Also, I was thinking of requesting something in clinicals, particularly ambulatory or inpatient.

      Delete
    3. That might be worth a full post, and maybe I can get some representatives from other positions to write some guest-posts.

      The short version is that as a TS, you solve the problems that are too difficult for the client analysts to solve. It mostly involves lots of research in Epic's various knowledge-sharing platforms (internal wikis, sharepoints, homegrown ticketing systems) to determine if the problem has been noticed (and hopefully resolved) previously. Other than that, there are a lot of meetings, some light coding in M/Cache, and project management without any formal training in how to successfully manage a project.

      It is challenging (mostly in a good way, but often in frustrating ways), and I found the clinical applications to be interesting.

      Delete
    4. Is it possible for me to get your email so that I can ask you a few questions?

      Delete
    5. Matthew, post another comment with your email address (I won't publish that comment), and I'll get in touch.

      Delete
  31. Does Epic System give drug tests?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm curious about this as well

      Delete
    2. On the list of questions that you should never ask during an interview, this ranks up there. If the answer is important to you, then you're probably not the right candidate for the job.

      That being said, I'm not aware of Epic ever administering drug tests.

      Delete
    3. They do not.

      Delete
  32. How do you feel the market will turn for 2015? Ive noticed that it seemed to dry up in 2014. Im certified in Epic ambulatory and inpatient orders with mostly application support, enhancement, and some upgrade experience. I currently took a FTE position due to the slowness in the consulting market with limited implementing experience. Would it be good idea to stay FTE or try to get back in the consulting market? Going forward, what do you see being in higher demand over the next few years with Epic going international? As well as remote support opportunities?

    thanks,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm also interested in the answer.

      Delete
    2. Getting solicited for market predictions: that's a new one. I'll try to keep the power from going to my head.

      I only have experience with a couple areas of the United States' healthcare market, so keep that in mind when you're weighing my advice.

      For longtime Epic customers (I'm drawing the line at 2010 and earlier), there will always be a demand for troubleshooting/support. Surescripts, medication vendor loads, IMO--these are time consuming tasks that need to happen constantly. I've seen organizations that have FTEs that do one of these tasks, and pretty much nothing else. For longtime customers, there will also always be a demand for project analysts. Things like MU, ICD-10--the goalposts are constantly moving and the build required is not something that can easily be put down and picked up by multiple analysts.

      Consulting, in my view, is more likely to trend towards longer assignments working on maintenance-related activities. Anyone who will implement Epic likely already has. If there are Cernovers, the hospital already has an IT department capable of doing the implementation. They may hire consultants for an implementation, but that won't be a guarantee and I expect positions doing implementations to be the exception, not the norm.

      Remote support is a great idea, but the adoption of that will depend on how bleeding-edge the healthcare organization likes to be. I know of some organizations that have allowed it, and others that expressly forbid it, even to the tune of not allowing their local FTEs the permission to work from home.

      Basically, you may as well be an FTE. With longer assignments, you might as well get the benefits that go with FTEness.

      Delete
  33. "How do you feel the market will turn for 2015? Ive noticed that it seemed to dry up in 2014."

    I'm an FTE Analyst at a customer site/hospital in a major city. Just started a month ago coming over from another department in the hospital. It's definitely slowing down and the contracts are getting shorter and shorter. We hired several consultants for my app/module. My permanent team consist of myself, my TL, and another analyst that has 2 years of experience. I have 3 to 4 months to get my certification. The consultants have 3 month contracts that will NOT be renewed. So whatever issues we might have after they leave will have to be settled with our small team of three, our T.S person, and the other FTE Epic people that work here on other apps. For the first year after implementation and go-live, 90% of the Epic workers were consultants. We are now down to 10% and 80-90% FTE's that came over from other departments/hired. This was done of course for financial/other issues. During work I hear the consultants being very upset over the even stricter non-compete rules and the fact that the market is slowing down. I don't know what the future holds.........

    ReplyDelete
  34. What qualifies an Epic Customer as an 'Active' implementation? My company has been live since October 2014 and we are currently in the maintenance/optimization phase. Would that be considered 'Active'? I'm looking to get back into consulting but the company that is looking to hire me is stating if Epic tells them that we are an Active Install, then they cannot hire me.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi, I'm looking into going to consulting. I was wondering if you could please recommend some of the better consulting firms you have worked and dealt with. I am currently based in Chicago. My preference is to deal with local consulting firms, but I don't mind dealing with out of state firms.

    Also, what is your opinions about the big consulting firms such as Deloitte and Accenture?

    Thanks.

    Note: Sorry, I had to post this again. I forgot to click "Notify me".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll refer you here: http://firedfromepic.blogspot.com/2012/08/consulting-firms-that-are-more-worth-it.html

      The comments will have more recent feedback. There have been changes since I wrote the post originally, with acquisitions, rumors of Epic's own consulting arm, etc.

      Delete
  36. I currently run an Healthcare IT consulting company that does project outsourcing (not offshoring). I have a large EPIC client who wants to hire us to write custom apps for them using their EPIC data. Will EPIC allow my team to get certified through our partner's umbrella? (we have no experience with EPIC)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's possible--I've seen hospitals send consultants to get certified. However, the custom apps bit raises red flags. If Epic knows that you intend to do that, I expect you risk being blacklisted.

      Delete
  37. I have 3 years experience with Epic, participated in 4 go lives and a SME with Resolute HB but no certification. Do you know of any companies that would hire me without the certification?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could potentially work as a CT, but not as a standard consultant.

      Delete
  38. It's almost the end of 2015. I'm currently a FTE thinking about going into consulting. Am I too late?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All depends on how much you're willing to travel, what application(s) you know, and how much experience you have. Lots of consulting work out there still if you have a lot of experience especially in a more niche app.

      Delete
  39. I have been doing ATE Support on Go Lives for the past 3 years, I have 20+ years clinical experience and recently was able to get a HealthCare system to sponsor me to become Epic Certified (I don't work for the HealthCare Company, they agreed to it as I was a key part of a multi-phase go live implementation). I passed the certification process pretty quick and easy. What are my realistic expectations for consulting work? I have a ton of real life Radiant experience and am certified... but limited build experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. None. You are not a consultant. Consultants bring years of experience, this why they get paid well. Take a full time job at a health system and be happy with it.

      Delete
    2. It all depends on the consulting firm. The hospital I work for has hired some complete duds from reputable consulting firms, so if you're certified at all then there's a chance. That being said, actual build experience is desirable. Get an analyst/build position at a hospital, get some experience, then go into consulting.

      Delete
  40. I recently left Epic and worked on an app that is already seeing a lot of growth and will continue for the foreseeable future. When my non-compete is up next year, is it doable to be an independent consultant (not affiliated with a Sagacious or Nordic, etc) and work remotely? While I understand this will diminish the client pool, I don't really want to get back into the traveling every week lifestyle. Most build does not require me to be on site (although if I got a local client, I would obviously be on site whenever possible). Do clients ever work with remote consultants, and do they work with independent consultants?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unless you know the client, the likelihood that they would execute a new MSA with you, especially when you bring no other consulting background, is slim to none. Both Vonlay and BlueTree have options where they supply remote staff to clients, so you could start there.

      Delete
  41. Another good place to connect with Epic employers and like minded Consultants is by joining the Epic focused social groups on LinkedIn. I am in "Epic One Stop Shop" and constantly find interesting articles, advice on issues, problem solving forums and new jobs. From time to time, when facing a particularly taxing issue, by posting in the group, other active members have come up with some sound advice and elegant solutions. I get regular updates from them, without being bombarded. You can follow the link at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/727967.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only issue is that the Epic One Stop Shop page is run by a pretty terrible firm. They don't know anything about Epic and are just trying to make a buck off you. Stick to firms that know what they're talking about - it may seem like they're a pass through, but in the long run, those are the firms that will survive.

      Delete