Overview: Healthcare Consultants | Medical Consultant Job Description, Salary, and Function

It’s not surprising that healthcare is where some of the highest paying jobs are. But perhaps you’re more of a business-type person or simply don’t have the head for memorizing countless biological functions to become a doctor.

Well, at the intersection of your talents and the healthcare world, have we got a job for you: healthcare consultancy. 

healthcare consultants

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CNN Money listed healthcare consultants in the 100 top careers with big growth, great pay, and satisfying work.

We’ve researched all about the work of healthcare consultants, looking at the average medical consultant salary and medical consultant job description in order to help you figure out whether you would enjoy being a health consultant.

First, what exactly does a health consultant do?

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Healthcare Consultants Job Description

The first role in being one of our nation’s healthcare consultants is pretty straightforward. Consultants for the most part in any industry function as a unique voice that can analyze a situation from an outsider’s perspective. They are hired to solve an existing problem, make operations more efficient, cut costs, and do whatever necessary for the client’s success.

If you haven’t learned this by now, hospitals are businesses. As a medical consultant, you will be able to improve the way that a hospital runs as a business, thereby improving the quality of service and care that patients receive. But healthcare consultants aren’t only a necessary part of the inner workings of a hospital.

As a medical consultant, you will also be called upon to use all the strategic innovation of a business to help find solutions for insurance providers, healthcare firms, pharmaceutical companies, and more.

Healthcare consultants are an important part of the smooth running of a healthcare facility by increasing its operational effectiveness. A medical consultant will make sure a hospital has an efficient payroll system to ensure that employees are being paid in a timely manner, increasing the overall employee satisfaction level.

Healthcare consultants also help find the best uses of money for the facility or company and apply supply chain management principles to be more economically efficient.

For example, a health consultant may calculate if buying medical supplies as needed (with added costs of shipping) is more efficient than filling a whole room of supplies (at which point, some may go bad before use).

A Day in the Life of a Medical Consultant

What does an average day look like for healthcare consultants? One medical consultant from GE Healthcare, George Thomas Mathew, MD, detailed his typical routine as a health consultant.

Around 7 a.m — Matthew wakes up at his hotel and responds to emails from team leaders regarding problems or questions they have.

At 9 a.m. — Matthew heads to a 10 a.m. client meeting with one of the hospitals he is working with to make sure his clients and fellow healthcare consultants are working together to gather data or do research for future improvements to the project’s process.

11 a.m. —He meets with teammates to review work done for client presentations, and then grabs a quick lunch from the deli across the street.

1 p.m. — Matthew leaves the hospital and takes a cab downtown for a 2:00 p.m. meeting with clients from another hospital he’s working at about a similar project.

3:30 p.m. —He has a teleconference meeting about a “clinical-practice improvement project in New Jersey.” Then he reviews work that has been done with the medical consultant team leader and makes further plans for the future.

4 p.m. —After meetings are over, Matthew starts working on assigned tasks and assignments from the day (such as PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and data analysis) in the healthcare consultants’ workroom.

Around 6 p.m. — Matthew eats dinner, either alone or with team members, but sometimes with a friend from university or medical school.

9:30 p.m. — He returns to his hotel room to finish up some leftover work and call loved ones.

11 p.m. — He finishes email responses and turns off his computer.

1 a.m. — Lights out.

Now that you’ve had a glimpse behind the curtain, it’s clear to see that working as a medical consultant isn’t all fun and games. Being a medical management consultant requires discipline, people skills, and the technical skills of problem solving.

However, Payscale.com found healthcare consultants to be personally satisfied with their jobs, as they are benefitting society in a low-stress environment.

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Health Consultant Working Conditions

What will your working conditions be like as a medical consultant?

First of all, your schedule is highly dependent on how many projects you’re working on at a time. Healthcare consultants need to both continue work on projects and complete set goals, in addition to meeting up with their clients to follow-up on progress on their end. Most of the time, working as a health consultant will be spent in meetings, followed by the actual work of finding solutions to problems.

Since most of the work is office work or involves dealing with people, work as a medical consultant is not labor intensive. The working conditions are not stressful if you are good at interacting with other people and also managing your time well.

Because of this, most healthcare consultants are goal-oriented people who know how to work with strict deadlines and handle multiple needy clients at once. It is also important to keep a realistic perspective, as sometimes there is a set maximum potential for efficiency and effectiveness that you can help customers reach as a medical consultant.

Healthcare Consultants’ Job Requirements

You might be wondering at this point what will be required to have a job as a health consultant. How exactly can you become a healthcare consultant?

First, you must assess your personal skills that will be required for work as a medical consultant.

  • Analytical skills: As a medical management consultant, you must assess the costs and effects both in the short run and in the long run of implementing new strategies. Your solutions must be tailor-made for each client as there are few set ways to success that apply to every hospital or healthcare facility.
  • Mathematical skills: Quantitative tasks are crucial to helping clients, as they will need numerical proof that your proposed strategy will positively benefit their organization.
  • Technological skills: Knowing how to run programs and create presentations on top of possessing a basic knowledge of economics, finance, accounting, marketing, and strategy will help you be a better medical consultant.
  • Interpersonal skills: Healthcare consultants work directly with clients and team members, making this category paramount for success.
  • Calculated risk-taking: It’s important for healthcare consultants to be highly ambitious and not afraid of risks, but they must also understand the full effects of a decision.
  • Comfortable with change: Working as a medical consultant, you will constantly be faced with new environments and new people. If you are able to adapt to the changes and traveling that come with working on a project-by-project basis, you will be successful as a medical consultant.

Secondly, obtaining a position as a health consultant requires a certain level of education.

  • Get the business side of things down. Take as many finance, accounting, and budgeting courses in b-school as you can in order to reinforce your credibility as a medical consultant. You must be exceptional at business management.
  • Optionally, earn a degree in advanced healthcare. A Master of Public Health degree or even a Doctor of Medicine degree (MD) are often held by healthcare consultants. While this isn’t a necessary part to working as a health consultant, it will certainly provide you with a thorough understanding of the theoretical and analytical framework of the various interactions among sectors of the larger healthcare system. If you do not understand the inner workings of the healthcare system, you will be unable to perform as a medical consultant.
  • Obtain certification. Education is important, but certification can be just as necessary. CareerCo.com suggests, “Consider pursuing the Certified Healthcare Business Consultant (CHBC) credential offered by the National Society of Certified Healthcare Consultants, or the ACHE Fellow (FACHE) designation conferred by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).” Having these certifications, just as in any profession, will legitimize what you know about your business field and can also give you a leg up over your competition as a medical consultant.
  • Learn Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Oracle. These programs are extremely important to work as a medical consultant. The less healthcare consultants need to be trained by their hiring companies, the more appealing they will be, and the more satisfied their customers will be as well. Programming experience can also be a plus for a health consultant, as information technology is rapidly becoming the future of healthcare.
  • Volunteer. Although this seems counterintuitive if you want to be a health consultant based on the medical consultant salary you will receive, it’s actually not unreasonable. Volunteering not only substantiates your resume and proves your in-field experience, but it also shows that you care to give back to your community as a health consultant.

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Medical Consultant Salary and Benefits

What are the benefits of being one of the many healthcare consultants in the United States? According to CNN Money’s Best Jobs in America in 2009, healthcare consultants earn a median salary of $94,000 per year. The top pay for healthcare consultants is $174,000 per year.

The ten-year job growth for healthcare consultants is thirteen percent, even in an economy that is still recovering from the shakiness of the Recession. This is because the healthcare infrastructure that is so important to our country’s well-being requires the help of healthcare consultancy to continue its smooth and efficient running.

Usually, if you’re working full-time as a medical consultant for one of the many healthcare consulting firms across the U.S., you will receive the traditional benefits of health insurance, paid leave, and sick days in addition to your medical consultant salary.

medical consultant

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Next Steps

So, if you’ve decided working as a health consultant is the perfect fit for you, what should you do next?

First, complete the education, certification, and skills development that will help you in your job as a medical consultant.

Secondly, you can apply to work for a healthcare consulting firm. Maybe you just want to work part-time, or even work from home. If so, you can check out FlexJobs.com for job postings. If you’re pursuing a more traditional route, you can search Indeed.com for health consultant job openings.

A popular choice for healthcare consultants is working with Integrated Healthcare Strategies, a Gallagher company. If you’re interested in working for this well-known and positively-reviewed company, then check their Careers page for any openings that you might want to apply to.

As with any job, you could also decide to start your own healthcare consultancy. This may take more time, financial backing, and energy. But if you’re interested in being your own boss, it is a great possibility.

Now that you know more about becoming a medical consultant, perhaps you are ready to join the ranks of the healthcare consultants across the country who are making the healthcare industry a better place.

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