What Is a Health Consultant?
The healthcare industry evolves at a rapid clip. The combination of new medical discoveries, unique care delivery strategies, innovative technology, changing regulations, and pharmaceutical breakthroughs creates an ever-changing landscape that can sometimes be difficult for a healthcare facility to keep pace with. If a facility starts falling behind, the quality of their patient care may also slip, which could have a negative impact on patient outcomes.
Fortunately, healthcare consultants can use their broad knowledge and experience to bridge the gaps caused by the healthcare industry’s constant fluctuations and help a facility stay the course. For those looking for a unique career in healthcare, the healthcare consultant role may be especially appealing. However, it is important to understand more about the profession before deciding to pursue it as a career.
What Does a Healthcare Consultant Do?
Healthcare consultants are brought in by a healthcare facility or organization to help them become more operationally and financially efficient. Healthcare consultants use their analytical skills to spot weaknesses in the facility’s systems or processes, and then offer recommendations on how to fix those vulnerabilities. A healthcare consultant typically focuses on administrative efficiency, legal compliance, work environment, procedural flow, and financial processes.
A healthcare consultant looks for ways to optimize a facility’s ability to deliver high-quality care to their patients efficiently and cost-effectively. Ultimately, this can increase the facility’s capacity to improve patient outcomes.
Healthcare consultants’ work environments change with each assignment, but they generally work in a clinical setting. Healthcare consultants also can expect to travel extensively for their work.
How to Become a Healthcare Consultant
Because of the critical nature of the role, those who aspire to become healthcare consultants typically take specific steps on the way to success in the field.
Step 1: Education
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement for a healthcare consultant role. However, some employers set an advanced degree as an academic baseline.
Earning an advanced degree such as a master’s in health administration can give healthcare consultants the ability to potentially stand out in a pool of consulting prospects. Furthermore, it can enable graduates to develop the operations, systems, and procedures expertise that is required for healthcare consultants to spot weaknesses within a healthcare facility’s operating structure.
Step 2: Experience
Gaining experience allows individuals to apply their knowledge to a real-world setting. This experience, in either an administrative or clinical capacity, can sometimes be gained as part of advanced degree coursework.
Real-world experience can also sharpen the skills considered fundamental to success in a healthcare consulting role. These skills include strong analytical competencies and detail orientation, and they also include skills commonly associated with business success like advanced communication and interpersonal skills.
Step 3: Networking
Building a reputation as a trusted, reliable healthcare consultant can be key to achieving success in the role. One of the best ways to create this reputation is by building a professional network, as doing so could lead to future consulting roles. This step can be aided by building a strong online presence, particularly through a professional website.
Healthcare Consultant Salary
According to PayScale, the median annual healthcare consultant salary as of July 2021 is around $78,900. The role can become even more financially lucrative over time: PayScale reports that healthcare consultants with five to nine years of experience have a median annual salary of $87,000, while those with 10 to 19 years of experience have a median annual salary of $98,000. PayScale also reports that the top 10 percent of earners within the healthcare consultant field have a median annual salary of around $123,000.
A Critical Role for Optimal Care
Improved healthcare efficiency can lead to improved patient outcomes. This makes the healthcare consultant’s job essential in the healthcare industry today — not to mention immensely satisfying. Those who take the plunge and become healthcare consultants can do so knowing that their work can have a sizable impact on other people’s lives.
The Online Master of Health Administration program offered by Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine can help you prepare to get the most out of this rewarding profession. Our program is specifically designed to allow you to gain the expertise and the skills needed to deliver effective, efficient results on a professional level in a variety of consulting scenarios, all within a time frame that fits your busy schedule. Learn how our program can help you forge a clear path toward success.