Many companies and organizations look to management consultants to help them improve efficiency. Medical organizations are no exception. This article briefly describes what healthcare consultants do and how to become one.
Healthcare consultants assist medical, biotechnology, and related policy groups in a variety of functions, ranging from financial and statistical analysis to program evaluation and strategy development. These professionals help implement policies and procedures to align organizational goals and maximize performance. Consultants typically hold at least a bachelor's degree in a health-related field. Related master's degree programs are also available, and professionals may consider voluntary certification.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree at minimum|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||14% for all management analysts*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$71,350 for management analysts working in healthcare and social assistance*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Healthcare consultants develop growth strategies, set budgets, manage finances, provide assistance in human resource matters, create reports, and aid medical organizations in regulatory compliance. While larger institutions and corporations typically have in-house administrators, many healthcare consultants work as independent contractors. Healthcare organizations may hire these consultants for short- or long-term projects. Consultants may also work for large consulting firms or agencies that serve these entities by providing experts in a particular field.
Areas of interest can steer healthcare consultants towards certain kinds of companies. A professional interested in finance and regulation may serve as a consultant for government agencies to explore fiduciary and regulatory issues connected with programs such as Medicaid. Interest in non-profit advocacy may inspire another healthcare consultant to become a strategic planning expert working for public interest groups.
Healthcare consultants can hone their expertise to serve the following sectors:
- Government agencies
- Health advocacy
- Hospitals and clinics
- Medical specialties (non-surgical and surgical)
- Insurance providers
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Physician groups
Depending on education, experience, and the nature of projects and work assignments, salaries for healthcare consultants can widely vary. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report information specific to healthcare consultants, such workers are considered one type of management analyst. Management analysts working in the fields of healthcare and social assistance earned a median annual salary of $71,350 in May 2015, according to the BLS.
Healthcare consultants typically obtain a bachelor's degree in industry-related majors, such as health information, finance, and medical record administration. Course content may cover health systems, policy, statistics, and healthcare reform. Individuals average higher salaries with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Public Health (MPH) or Master of Business Administration (MBA), according to PayScale.com. Some universities offer dual MBA/MPH degree programs.
Although not mandatory, certification as a Certified Healthcare Business Consultant (CHBC) may be an asset when it comes to making industry contacts and keeping up with trends. Certifications are available for general and specific fields and can be especially valuable for consultants who work independently. The National Society of Healthcare Business Consultants administers the CHBC exam.
Although positions for consultants are expected to increase at a faster rate than the national average of all occupations, applicants should expect strong competition for these positions. This is because of the high earning potential associated with this career. Applicants with a graduate degree, certification, or other valuable skills will have better chances of breaking into this competitive field.