Vandalay! Vonlay! … Huron?

I was shocked (okay, only a little bit) when I heard the news that Huron Consulting acquired Vonlay, LLC.  This is big new, in a way, because Vonlay was one of the three that set themselves apart in my eyes.  If you wanted a Epic clinical or revenue cycle consultant who was worth his or her weight, then you went to Vonlay, Nordic or Sagacious … and then there were two.

Yes, yes, perhaps there are others (there are certainly great consultants out there who work for other firms), but these three tended to be the landing point for the best of the former Epic employees who waited out their non-competes, and ventured into the world of EMR implementation as consultants.

The world of EMR consulting is hit and miss, and if you can eliminate the possibility of getting a “bad apple” consultant who turns out to be worthless after several weeks (or months) of a project, you are ahead of the game.  The interviewing process and client orientation take time, and if you find out weeks into a consultant’s engagement that you picked a loser, then you have wasted valuable project time – perhaps months.  These “Big Three” of the former Epic consulting firms tended to take the guess work out of things for customers, and whenever I was asked about potential consultants, I always suggested, “Start with Vonlay, Nordic or Sagacious … if you can’t find someone there, then broaden your search.”

With Vonlay merged into Huron, one wonders how Huron will continue to:

1) Attract the top notch former Epic Employees (I hear that they will be required to honor a two year post-employment non-compete term).
2) Set themselves apart to their customers.

Will they create a class of “super-consultants” at Huron who will be treated with special privilege?  Will the current consultants begin to look elsewhere?  The questions are too many to answer.  The real question is not, “Why  did Vonlay sell?” (the selling price in the 10’s of millions is the short answer there), but, “What does the future hold?”

I’m keeping my eyes on Huron.


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