It’s surprising how the healthcare industry is complex and yet rewarding at the same time. Just one sector — for example, healthcare consulting — can unlock great opportunities. But what is healthcare consulting, and if it's so good of a career option, how can you become a healthcare consultant?
With constant developments in treatments, medication, and technology, healthcare organizations have much to keep track of — and doing so thoroughly and professionally is vital to their success and patients' health. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. That’s where a healthcare consultant can take the responsibility to help these organizations balance patient care with patient experience.
This post will teach you why healthcare consulting is a job with a greater purpose, what options you have, and how to start working in the field.
Table of Contents
- What is healthcare consulting?
- Types of Healthcare Consulting
- Why Healthcare Consulting?
- How to Get Into Healthcare Consulting
As the primary job of healthcare organizations is to cure their patients, they can fall behind in many areas when ignored. And since healthcare is a competitive industry, they can’t afford that.
Therefore, these organizations need healthcare consultants who can analyze the organization’s position, diagnose shortcomings, and create solutions to help overall growth.
Types of Healthcare Consulting
A healthcare organization is a business with many minor sectors to look after; therefore, you can either choose to become a generalist to solve minor problems or specialize in one area to become a known expert and serve specific clients.
Here are the various types of healthcare consulting you can master to help organizations grow.
For a healthcare organization to survive in a competitive market, it should stay at the top of its patients‘ (customers’) minds. As a strategy consultant, you’ll have diverse business knowledge and a deep understanding of your target audience’s pain points.
You’ll mainly conduct well-rounded assessments to find glitches in its business strategy and create solutions. Your job would be to ensure the healthcare organization grows its revenue and delivers excellent patient care.
With the internet almost irreplaceable in customers’ lives, traditional marketing ways to attract customers no longer work. And as customers have many options, it’s far more important to appear as an expert and the only one who can diagnose their problem.
A marketing consultant will create smart digital marketing strategies to help healthcare organizations show up in front of the right target audience as the best option. You’ll be required to stay up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and develop creative campaigns to acquire new customers for these organizations.
Technology is ever-changing in the medical space. New equipment, improved medicine, and better treatment procedures are introduced every day.
For healthcare organizations to remain effective, they must leverage efficient technology paired with the right treatment and medication for their patients. The problem is they’re not very well-versed in testing, installing, and working with the latest technological equipment.
As a technology consultant, you’ll evaluate an organization’s technological needs and introduce and test new solutions. You’ll determine if a piece of new equipment is a good fit and will positively help the organization's growth.
HR and Operations Consulting
Like any business, healthcare organizations must ensure that each member adds value. But since they’re dealing with precious lives, they have to be extra careful. An HR and operations consultant will regularly analyze each staff member’s performance and guide them to help advance in their career.
Your duties will include:
- Creating job descriptions and responsibilities.
- Workplace standards.
- Hiring new staff.
- Promoting a healthy workplace culture.
- Ensuring staff members feel recognized when they deliver outstanding performance.
Legal and Regulatory Consulting
To run a healthcare organization legally, it’s required to abide by laws. But getting a license once isn’t enough because the laws and regulations constantly change. They also affect day-to-day operations, patient information management, treatment contracts, and more.
A legal and regulatory consultant is an expert who ensures that the organization abides by changing laws. Your job would include:
- Updating yourself with the recent legal modifications.
- Monitoring your organization’s condition regularly.
- Implementing the changes.
Why Healthcare Consulting?
Working as a healthcare consultant is a highly regarded profession. Because you have a higher level of business expertise than an average employee, you’re a priceless resource to the organization.
In addition to developing creative solutions as a healthcare consultant, here are some benefits:
- As it’s a competitive industry with many players, your unique advice will help your client's healthcare organization stay on top.
- You’ll provide insights and expertise regarding company decisions directly impacting customers, patients, and other external stakeholders.
- You’ll get to work with various healthcare organizations and hospitals.
- You’ll maintain job security — as the industry constantly changes, healthcare organizations, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and hospitals will always need your expertise.
- You’ll earn an average salary ranging between $63K and $112K yearly.
- You’ll gain employment freedom — as you decide to work in full- or part-time positions or be self-employed.
Since consulting firms can employ hundreds of consultants, they can offer specialized support within various industry sectors. As a consultant at a firm within one of these specialties or sectors, you’ll develop greater expertise and put yourself in an even more desirable position to work with premium clients.
Here are some of the sectors that healthcare consulting firms specialize in:
- Healthcare systems and processes (strategy, technology, revenue, performance, finance, sustainability, etc.)
- Clinical operations
- Federal and state government agencies
- Hospitals, physicians, and physician groups
- Payer or insurance provider strategies
- Delivery systems
- Medical technology
Whether or not you think a firm is right for you, working in the healthcare consulting field requires the same background. Let’s review the typical steps for anyone looking to get into a healthcare consulting role next.
How to Get Into Healthcare Consulting
Your education is the most important part of your experience and background when trying to kickstart your career. You need a relevant bachelor’s degree to begin working as a healthcare consultant.
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.
To ensure your bachelor’s degree is relevant to your desired position in healthcare consulting, choose a field of study related to the industry, such as public health, business, or even nursing. Since healthcare is a complex industry, a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject will provide you with the necessary background you need to assist your clients and meet their needs effectively.
And speaking of this field's complexity, a master’s degree is something many of the top firms look for when hiring consultants.
2. Obtain a master’s degree (optional).
Having a master‘s degree isn’t necessarily essential to begin your career. A bachelor‘s degree alone qualifies you to get hired as a healthcare consultant. So, if you want to get experience quickly, you may just need a bachelor’s degree. You can always get a master‘s degree whenever you’re ready to upscale.
That being said, an advanced degree will make you more desirable among employers and clients and allow you to land positions with higher salaries and greater responsibilities. You might need a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Public Health (MPH).
3. Determine which type of healthcare consultant you want to become.
Next, think about whether you want to be self-employed, work for a company as an internal consultant, or work for a consulting firm. There’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s all a matter of preference based on your goals, aspirations, and work style.
For example, if you thrive in a structured work environment alongside other employees, you might enjoy being at a major firm like McKinsey. But if you’d rather have complete flexibility to make your hours and choose your clients, working for yourself — or even a small firm — might be the way to go.
4. Develop the right skills.
You’ll need to develop various skills to become an effective healthcare consultant. Here are some of the technical and interpersonal skills that will help you do your job well:
- Communication skills. You’ll interact with many clients, coworkers, and patients throughout your career, so you should be a fluent and compelling speaker.
- Problem-solving. One of your most critical jobs would be identifying and solving problems in the healthcare organization. Therefore, you must be a keen observer to find problems and develop innovative solutions.
- Analytical skills. A part of your job will require you to analyze data to determine patterns or loopholes. You should be able to process a large amount of data or information.
- Financial knowledge. As an advisor, you must guide healthcare organizations to help them grow their revenue. You should quickly identify problems with their finances and suggest better solutions.
- Business expertise. If you decide to work as a strategic healthcare consultant, having business knowledge is the most required. Ideally, you should be able to figure out why the healthcare organization as a business isn’t growing.
- Medical expertise. As you’re working in the healthcare industry, it’s a no-brainer you should know about it. Teach yourself about healthcare laws, policies, legislation, practices, etc.
5. Gain experience in the field and grow your network.
After honing the right skills, it’s time to gain real work experience. In your beginning years, you should take as much work as possible as it will allow you to expand your knowledge and grow your professional network.
It’s also a good idea to build connections with other experts in the industry. So it’s easier for you to move up the ranking ladder (or gain more clients), expand your responsibilities, become well-known and highly regarded among clients, and achieve greater career aspirations.
6. Fine-tune your skills and stay up to speed with industry trends.
As both the healthcare industry and your clients are ever-changing, you, as a consultant, should consistently keep your industry knowledge updated and keep improving your skills.
For instance, you know that technology and laws are fast changing and that you’ll be left behind if you’re unaware of the recent changes. If you can't guide organizations to make adjustments based on these changes, you’d no longer be a valuable asset to the industry.
That’s why you should consistently update your knowledge to remain in demand.
Begin your healthcare consulting career.
Healthcare consulting is an impactful, well-regarded, and lucrative career path. You can educate various client types on improving operations, work within the boundaries of healthcare policies and laws, and streamline company processes and strategies. You’re bound to have an exciting and rewarding road ahead working as a healthcare consultant.