Healthcare Management Consulting Practice
Healthcare management majors most often head to work in a hospital or clinic. But did you know they might also seek work in the corporate offices of a healthcare corporation? After gaining some experience in the field, a healthcare manager might start—or join—a healthcare consultancy. The field of healthcare consulting is currently growing at a huge rate to meet the demands of expanding health systems across the nation.
What Healthcare Consultants Do
Many different sorts of business people call themselves consultants. Healthcare consultancies are no different; they come in several different forms, but each has the goal of improving how providers manage their businesses, and ultimately, patient outcomes. A few types of healthcare consultancies are as follows:
- Health systems consultancies work with or in large-scale organizations, such as a corporation
- Government healthcare consultancies work in state and federal governmental agencies
- Physician groups consultants
- Pharmaceutical consultants
Once a consultant is hired by a client, they might perform duties such as assessing the worth of a practice. They might also assess the value of comparable companies in the same sector. This is for the sake of mergers and acquisitions. Consultants also use these valuations to help a client make a public offering.
Consultants also assess the overall management of a healthcare organization. They can analyze the organizational flow charts and quantifiable outcomes to determine where changes are needed. This sort of audit can save healthcare organizations lots of money over the long-haul.
Cybersecurity is a huge aspect of the healthcare consultancy world. Hospitals, as just one example, cannot afford to be hacked. Cyber criminals have locked hospital staff out of their patient databases, and now that EHRs (Electronic Health Records) are standard in hospitals and clinics, may be vulnerable to the confiscation of patient data. Therefore, IT consultants can take a close look at a facility’s infrastructure and determine how to best secure its networks and data systems.
Regulation is also a big and complex issue in healthcare. Consultants can help explain regulations to executives, doctors and even the front-desk personnel of an institution, so that everyone is on the same page and working under the most current guidelines. When the laws and regulations are followed properly, the risk of civil action falls.
How to Become a Healthcare Consultant
Your first step towards being a healthcare consultant is to complete a degree in healthcare management. You might consider majoring in healthcare management but also study accounting, computer science or information technology, among other possibilities. If you know what specific area you’d like to consult in, your undergraduate years are a great time to start focusing your energy and studies on your area of interest.
With a educational foundation in place after earning your bachelor’s degree, you might land an entry-level job in healthcare management. Try to focus your work on areas where you have particular aptitude or desire. In this first years of work, try to absorb as much knowledge as possible. Continue your training and remain current with industry publications.
Once you have a significant body of experience, you can start looking at next steps, such as starting your own consulting practice or joining a consulting firm. If there are healthcare consultants in your area, you might start networking with them to see if you’d be a good fit for their organization. If you have your sights set on a large consulting firm, you might want to start a graduate degree before you look for a job as a consultant.
To be the best consultant possible, you will need a solid education to stand out. The world of consultancy is competitive and high stakes at times, so a firm foundation will help you keep your bearing as you build your consulting practice, or seek employment in a firm.
Therefore, your best bet is to complete a master’s degree program focusing on your area of interest. Here, you have a lot of choices. There are MBA programs that specialize in healthcare management, for instance, and then there are programs that grant a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degrees. You might also seek out IT master’s programs or even a CPA program that will allow you to perform audits and do financial consulting.
Finding the Best Healthcare Management Program
There are many healthcare management degrees available out there. With the growth of online education, the numbers can be a bit overwhelming. However, you can narrow down your choices by first determining a few things:
- What specialty area would you like to pursue?
- Are you driven to complete a master’s degree?
- Do you want a traditional or online program? What are your obligations outside of school?
Keep in mind that your bachelor’s degree is likely to be broad-based with some liberal arts curriculum. Undergraduate degrees are designed to provide a solid foundation for later specialized learning. With that in mind, you can find programs that are weighted more to your interests. Here are some areas to consider:
- Computer Science
- Public Policy
- Public Health
Outlook and Salary for Healthcare Consultants
The jobs outlook for healthcare consultants is quite positive. The industry is growing at a rapid pace, mostly due to the aging population, and there is a great need for talent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management consultants with a bachelor’s degree earn a median salary of $81,330 and the highest paid in the field earned over $149,720. With an anticipated job growth rate of 12 percent through 2026 and the rapid growth in the healthcare industry, specialized consultants and analysts should have success finding employment, especially if they have earned sufficient education.
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