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What Is a Health Consultant?

October 15, 2021

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 its patient care may also slip and negatively affect 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 facilities stay the course. For those looking for a nonclinical career in health care, becoming a health consultant may be especially appealing. However, it is important to understand more about the profession before deciding to pursue it as a career.

Becoming a successful healthcare consultant requires a unique skill set, a variety of experiences, and the right education and training. A degree in health administration, for example, establishes a foundation of knowledge that career-oriented individuals can build upon.

What Does a Healthcare Consultant Do?

A healthcare consultant is an expert who helps healthcare facilities or organizations as an evaluator and a professional advisor. Typically, health consultants are hired by a healthcare facility or organization on a contractual basis to help it become more operationally and financially efficient. 

Healthcare consultants use their analytical skills to spot weaknesses in systems or processes, and then offer recommendations on how to fix those vulnerabilities. Their areas of focus usually include administrative efficiency, legal compliance, work environment, procedural flow, and financial processes.

A healthcare consultant also looks for ways to deliver high-quality care to patients efficiently and cost-effectively. Ultimately, this can increase the capacity to improve patient outcomes by eliminating redundancies, streamlining processes, and implementing other innovative solutions. Essentially, a healthcare consultant plays the dual roles of problem finder and problem solver. Healthcare consultants’ work environments change with each assignment, but they generally work in clinical settings. Hospitals, healthcare organizations, public sector agencies, insurance companies, private practices, and pharmaceutical companies are all known to need consultancy work. People considering a career as a health consultant may engage in extensive travel.

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 allow healthcare consultants to 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

The median annual healthcare consultant salary as of April 2024 is around $86,450, according to Payscale. 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 $92,000, while those with 10 to 19 years of experience have a median annual salary of $102,000. Payscale also reports that the top 10 percent of earners have a median annual salary of around $131,000.

Importance of Healthcare Consultancy

The work of a health consultant is critical in the ever-evolving healthcare industry. These professionals bring a unique blend of expertise in healthcare and business management to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of care services. This impacts healthcare organizations’ overall performance and patient care quality. Key reasons that healthcare consultants are invaluable include the following:

  • They possess a wealth of experience in healthcare systems.
  • They improve patient care while driving operational efficiency.
  • They can help clients with compliance and risk management issues.
  • They can help organizations achieve their revenue goals.
  • They can provide beneficial expertise to hospitals when strategic planning.
  • They contribute diversity of thought and a fresh perspective.

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.

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Indeed, What Is a Health Care Consultant? (And How to Become One)

National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants, Comprehensive Certification Program – CHBC

PayrHealth, What Does a Healthcare Consultant Do?

PayrHealth, Why Healthcare Consulting Is Important

Payscale, Average Healthcare Consultant Salary