The goal of any hospital or other healthcare organization is to provide patients with the highest standard of care, promoting the best possible outcomes while minimizing potential risks. In order to uphold these high standards, clinical excellence is a must. At the same time, healthcare organizations require a strong administrative structure. To do their job well, and to deliver quality care to patients, healthcare providers rely on efficient procedures and equitable policies. And to ensure they have the right resources at their disposal, providers also need to reduce wasteful or unnecessary expenditures.
To develop these time and money saving approaches, hospitals and other organizations often enlist the expertise of a healthcare consultant. Consultants help healthcare organizations improve their processes, operate more efficiently, treat patients equitably and prioritize their investments. By earning an advanced degree in a health administration field, consultants can make a positive impact while also making a competitive healthcare consultant salary.
What Does a Healthcare Consultant Do?
Healthcare consultants work with healthcare organizations to identify financial inefficiencies, develop process improvements and ultimately improve patient care. Healthcare consultants are recognized as specialists within their field, and they draw on their background and formal training in healthcare policymaking to help organizations identify and find solutions for particular challenges or bottlenecks. Healthcare consultants work specifically with administrators and executives, helping them to locate the areas where quality of care could be improved.
Where Do Healthcare Consultants Work?
Healthcare consultants work in a number of different environments, including the following:
- Healthcare organizations, including hospitals, medical groups and large practices
- Federal and state government agencies
- Health insurance companies
- Pharmaceutical companies
Consultants may be hired by any healthcare organization that has an interest in saving time, conserving money or ensuring a smoother experience for patients.
Healthcare Consultant Salary
When considering a career in this field, it’s only natural to wonder about salary expectations. The median annual healthcare consultant salary is approximately $80,000, according to June 2022 data from Payscale. Those in the lowest 10th percentile of the salary range had annual salaries lower than $56,000, while those in the highest 10th percentile had annual salaries higher than $123,000.
A number of factors can affect a healthcare consultant’s specific pay level. Some of these factors are:
- Years of experience. Typically, more years in healthcare administration makes individuals more valuable subject-matter experts, thus leading to a higher level of pay.
- Level of experience. Likewise, a stronger academic background signals greater familiarity with health policy. Earning a master’s-level degree can be a way to develop expertise and to earn a more competitive salary.
- Geographic region. Salaries can also vary by location, as factors such as cost of living can fluctuate from place to place.
The Skills of a Healthcare Consultant
Honing the right set of skills is crucial to succeeding as a healthcare consultant and making a positive impact on healthcare organizations. Some of the most important healthcare consultant skills are:
- Analytical skills. Effective healthcare consultants can evaluate organizations’ current policies and procedures to assess them for potential liabilities or inefficiencies and suggest changes that could generate better outcomes.
- Knowledge of health policies. Healthcare consultants must have a comprehensive knowledge of health policies and be able to think through the causal relationships between policies and patient outcomes while also considering variables such as legal regulations and fiduciary responsibilities.
- Financial skills. One of healthcare consultants’ primary goals is to improve healthcare organizations’ resource use and profitability by eliminating wasteful or superfluous spending. As such, financial assessment skills are pivotal.
- Interpersonal communication. Communication skills are essential. Healthcare consultants must work closely with administrators and seek the perspective of doctors, nurses, front office staff and other administrative employees.
- Problem-solving. Ultimately, the role of healthcare consultants is to solve problems, whether patient-intake bottlenecks, staffing issues or poor uses of organizational resources. Having a problem-solving mentality is a must.
One way to demonstrate knowledge, expertise and competence to potential clients and employers is to pursue certification. The National Society of Healthcare Business Consultants is the largest professional society in the U.S. for healthcare management and financial consulting services. It offers three certifications: certified healthcare business consultant (CHBC), practice accounting and finance specialist (PAFS) and practice management and operations specialist (PMOS). Certification requires successful completion of an examination. It can open the door to more professional opportunities and potentially higher levels of pay.
Optimizing Healthcare Management
To be able to deliver the highest levels of care, as cost-effectively as possible, healthcare organizations must run efficiently.
Healthcare consultants can play a major role in boosting that efficiency. To pursue this vocation, consider earning an advanced degree, such as the George Washington University’s Healthcare Master of Business Administration degree. The curriculum focuses on health financing, business analytics and policymaking, and students can choose from among seven optional graduate certificates, including Regulatory Affairs, Health Care Quality and Clinical Research Practice certificates. Find out how GW can help open the door to the next chapter in your career.