Consultants Revisited

As a follow up to my Consultants post, here’s how I felt about my consultant firm few months after hiring them:

 

The more I go through this process, the more I question the value of my consultant. Maybe they are more familiar with the East Coast medical practice environment or maybe they just don’t provide any more value than what I can already figure out on my own.  The problem with consultants is that they practice in theory only.  They have never been behind the frontline as doctors.

Although my consultant helped me to get started off on the right foot, I’ve evolved to take on a path of my own.  Given that I currently have a lot of free time on my hands, I’ve spent countless hours Googling as many practice management concepts as possible. Turns out that Google happens to be the best consultant ever, and it’s freeeee!!!  At this point, I’m actually making a concerted effort to avoid my consultant, especially because they tend to inflate their billed hours like crazy.  At $150 to $200 per hour,  it costs me money every time I speak with them.   In addition, some of their information has  turned out to be incorrect or outdated.  Because the economy and laws are in a constant state of flux, it’s impossible for consultants to stay up to date with all these changes.  I, on the other hand, can because I’m learning everything in real time.  Unlike a consultant, Google gives you information pooled from millions of resources that get updated every minute.  You have to be careful that your information is reliable and correct though.  Often times, if 5 or 6 separate websites say the same thing, it’s probably true, and that’s how I’ve been filtering my research.

This doesn’t mean that I didn’t benefit at all from my consultants.  They helped me to fine tune my pro forma template, to develop thorough startup cost estimates, and to generate my personnel procedure, OSHA, and HIPAA manual.  Although, all they did  for my manuals were to  insert my name into a generic template, and then slap me with a $1,000 bill.  In retrospect, I probably could have done the same thing with an online template for $75, but it probably would have taken me over 40 hours to review and learn how to tweak everything correctly.  This task just intimidated me too much.  I’m still going to look over all these manuals and policies though.  I also plan to use my consultant to generate my fee schedule, since they have access to fee schedule “databases” and I don’t.  I bet these “databases” aren’t the most scientific, but I probably won’t be able to find anything better on Google.

The following is my consultant’s original quote for the full service package:

  1. Startup Package $17,500
  2. Credentialing $4,500
  3. Website Development $3,500
  4. Space Planning $2,000
  5. Employee Hiring $4,000

 

The total ends up being over $30,000!  That’s a lot of money for a service that retains no tangible value.  Originally, I was planning to use their full service because I didn’t know how difficult it would be to do everything on my own.  I now understand that none of this stuff is rocket science.  If you’re smart enough to become a doctor, and you’re willing to put in the leg work, I promise you that you will do as good of a job as your consultant.  It’s just a little scary to go it alone without the “professional’s” reassurance.

As of now, excluding website development, I’m on pace to spend $6,000 to $7,000 on my consultant.  Since I’m a complete techtard, I will absolutely need to hire someone for website development, and might as well use the guys who develop medical websites only.  I ended up not using their credentialing and hiring services, and my landlord took care of the space planning.  If I had to do it over again, I probably could’ve been able to get by with $4,000 to $5,000 worth of service.  You live an learn.

Now, if you’re currently a practicing ophthalmologist, without much free time to devote to your startup, you might want to use a consultant just to do the grunt work.  You’ll still have to do a some running around yourself though.  I’m pretty much unemployed at this point, so there’s really no reason for me to use my consultant for their labor only.  Besides, there’s much to gain by doing everything yourself.  In all honesty, I can confidently say  that because I did everything myself, I can do a better and cheaper job at starting an ophthalmology practice from scratch than a consultant.  Regardless of how much you use your consultant, you should try to be involved with all the ins and outs of your practice to maximize your chances of making it efficient and successful.  For my final 2017 thoughts about consultants please read this post.

 

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