Healthcare consultants mainly work in clinical consulting jobs with non-corporations such as hospitals and government programs. Nonetheless, their clients include insurance companies, nursing homes, pharmacies, and private practitioners. Their activities and skills remain basically transferable. Specifically, they evaluate healthcare businesses for efficiency, performance, and competitiveness in their specific industry. They envision profit-generating improvements in these aspects, which may include new job creation, computer-software implementation, and redirection of marketing collateral. Their utmost goal is to heighten a business’s productivity and market visibility while maintaining cost-efficiency.
Healthcare consultants often work at outside consulting firms rather than as in-house employees for healthcare companies. By virtue of being outsiders, they can examine each facet of their client with an unbiased eye. This objectivity enables them to discover the small flaws in a company’s structure that may go unnoticed by internal employees. Conversely, their outsider status helps them gain a broad view of a company’s big picture, which would likely be much harder were they internal employees. Moreover, their in-house positions at healthcare consulting firms allow consultants to learn new business trends that may relate to client education.
Since U.S. healthcare costs are so high, many consultants initially focus on cost-cutting actions. Some consultants advise upper managers to eliminate certain jobs and consolidate those job duties with other jobs to reduce payroll expenses. Consultants may also recommend the purchase of new accounting software that contains automatic internal controls. These controls first screen users through ID and password identification, then highlight errors and fraudulent accounting that effectively insure a business against disaster. Though new software may have high start-up costs, consultants often assure upper management that this software’s long-term protection will recompense the business many times over. Furthermore, consultants may recommend new informational technology (IT) programs for nurses and doctors to use to stay competitive in their industry. These programs may include patient-records software and insurance claims-processing software.
Due to the highly regulated nature of healthcare, many healthcare consultants are experts in compliance management. They instruct health industries on workplace regulations, such as those from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition, compliance consultants draft company regulatory policies and agendas for enforcing those policies, such as posters listing penalties for compliance violation. Moreover, they advise industries on their medical coding procedures (such as surgical coding and diagnostic coding), and often have considerable experience themselves as Certified Medical Coders. They may also advise management to create mandatory compliance-training programs for various employees. Lastly, they may be asked to perform regular compliance audits at company facilities.
Healthcare consultants additionally provide financial counsel on a business’s market value, advertising, and resource allotment. They review past financial statements to ascertain the net value of a company, and then tell upper managers whether this value spells financial solvency in future markets. If not, they perform research on similar healthcare establishments to advise the client on methods to expand their competitiveness. For instance, the consultant may advise a client to shift more marketing collateral to the Internet, since more people are searching the Internet for medical care rather than in print publications. The consultant may further recommend the hiring of an information architect or systems administrator who can design a high-quality Web site for the client. Healthcare consultants who specialize in finance are often former Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and financial managers for healthcare institutions.
Healthcare attorneys comprise another branch of healthcare consultants. Their job is to advise healthcare practitioners on any activities that may potentially raise lawsuits. They are completely knowledgeable about medical malpractice and personal injury laws. These consultants are also aware of the ever-mounting regulatory laws in the healthcare industry and help their clients maintain awareness of all federal, state, and local laws. Moreover, they are well-informed on federal insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Healthcare consulting job opportunities are expected to boom in the next decade. Because healthcare has become such an ungainly enterprise, it needs trouble-shooters who can strip businesses down to their bare essentials while maintaining high performance. However, the educational demands for healthcare consultants are fairly rigorous. Most successful healthcare consultants achieve master’s degrees in business administration, healthcare management, law, or accounting. They also complete internships and medical jobs throughout their studies, perhaps as nurses or laboratory technicians. To work even entry-level jobs, they are usually required to gain licensure, such as the registered nurse (RN) licensure.
Nevertheless, healthcare consultants who achieve graduate degrees while accumulating on-the-job experience earn comfortable incomes. On average, they earn $73,000 per year. They are poised to earn more as world economic trends create more healthcare consulting jobs for all types of healthcare industries.