Among the most varied, valued and challenging careers in healthcare, a healthcare consultant, is a profession with a bright future for those with the right education and personality to succeed.
Healthcare consultants are specialized advisors employed to, in a nutshell, help improve work. This means analyzing current operations and recommending improvements in areas such as financial management, information technology, strategic planning, human resources or other departments.
The Job of a Healthcare Consultant
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for management analysts in healthcare are expected to grow 15% between 2014 and 2024, a faster-than-average climb.
What is a healthcare consultant?
“Those who become healthcare consultants are individuals that have an interest in helping healthcare organizations run efficiently, responsibly, with the ultimate goal of ensuring patient safety,” notes AcademicInvest in an article "How to Become a Healthcare Consultant".
Above all healthcare management consultants are dedicated to leading transformational change within healthcare organizations.
What exactly does a healthcare consultant do?
There are many roads to the profession and variations on the actual position. Two of the most common destinations are within a healthcare consulting firm operating as a niche player such as Advisory.com and within the healthcare division of a larger, general management consulting firm such as McKinsey, Deloitte, or Boston Consulting Group.
Healthcare Consultants work with a wide range of clients in a multitude of ways. Whether you work for a niche firm or a nationally recognized agency, you may work with:
- hospitals and health networks
- healthcare providers and medical group practices
- pharmaceutical companies,
- government clients,
- medical device manufacturers, and
- insurance companies
What is a typical healthcare consulting project?
A typical project for a healthcare management consultant might include analyzing existing data, researching a problem identified by a client, and delivering reports, suggesting ways in which the client can operate more efficiently, better serve their patients, or otherwise improve.
Beyond identifying problems and researching solutions consultants may devise implementation strategies and work with an implementation teams to achieve the client's desired result.
Healthcare Consultant Job Responsibilities
Great healthcare consultants are excited to go into a healthcare organization, understand the organizational dynamics, investigate problems, and work with the organization to set goals, create action plans, manage change and execute swiftly to improve efficiency.
The job responsibilities and work conditions — including travel to a client’s site — means consultants must be self-motivated and able to work with minimal supervision, collaborate and lead teams effectively, be flexible and communicate clearly.
Key Focus Areas
Management consultants of every variety are keen observers and strong communicators. Healthcare consultants however have a growing list of areas they need to pay close attention to:
- Healthcare reform and regulatory compliance
- Information Technology enablement and transparency
- Operational efficiency such as hospital-physician alignment
- Clinical outcomes and population health programs
- Leadership Development and change management
Healthcare management consultants should be comfortable:
- reviewing business information,
- interviewing staff,
- analyzing revenue sources,
- studying employment numbers, and
- implementing operation and management best practices.
Management principles are relatively similar across most industries. To excel within healthcare, management consultants need a firm understanding of how hospitals function, the interdependence of care providers along the continuum of care, as well as payments and risk.
AcademicInvest.com points out the required level of education varies by employer; the typical healthcare consultant not only obtains a bachelor’s degree, but also a Master of Health Administration or similar graduate level degree including management experience in healthcare.
Leadership positions within healthcare consulting demand a strong background in healthcare. To achieve a leadership position you'll need years of healthcare consulting experience or transition from the healthcare industry to work for a consulting firm.
Regardless of where you start, one of the best ways to accelerate your career advancement is through attaining an Executive Master of Health Administration degree.
An executive MHA offers healthcare professionals and management consultants a world-class management training with a strict focus on healthcare through courses such as;
- “Application of Six Sigma and Lean Methodology in Healthcare Organizations,”
- “Managing Risk in Contracting to Meet Performance Objectives,”
- “Strategic Management” and
- “Managing the Organization’s Financial Health.”
Learning doesn’t always stop there. Some employers require a certain level of continuing education to stay on the cutting edge of technology, thought leadership, and other developing topics.
If a healthcare consultant career sounds like an appealing goal for you, learn how the Executive MHA program at USC’s Sol Price school can be the launch pad for your consulting career.
TheBestSchools.org ranked USC’s Executive Master of Health Administration Program No. 2 among its 25 Best Online Master of Healthcare Administration Degrees, “High-quality online Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degrees prepare graduates to effectively take part in the dynamic healthcare industry.”