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How to Become a Medical Business Consultant: Career Guide

Oct 20, 2021

Learn how to become a medical business consultant. Research the job description and education requirements, and find out how to start a career in medical business consulting.

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Medical Business Consultant

Medical business consultants might work as independent contractors; employees of hospitals, insurance companies, or medical practices; or members of a consulting firm. The job of the consultant is to help improve productivity, increase revenue, and provide business-related support and guidance for medical practices or facilities. The consultant might specialize in one or more areas of medical business management, including hospital relationships and medical practice technologies, practice management, administrative support, cost containment, revenue cycle management, and reporting methods.

Most business consultants split their time between working in an office setting and traveling to see current and potential clients. Those who work as independent contractors are often self-employed and have less job security than those who have a single employer.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree at a minimum; master's degree may be preferred
Degree Field Business, accounting, or another related field
Certification Professional certification is preferred
Key Skills Communication, analytical, problem-solving, time-management, and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to work under pressure
Median Salary (2020)* $77,332 (for healthcare consultants)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), *PayScale.com.

Career Steps

Now let's check out the career steps for medical business consultants.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree

Medical business consultants must be knowledgeable in both business and medicine in order to be able to make financial decisions that will benefit healthcare providers. To learn how to navigate the complex structure of the healthcare system while making sound business decisions, potential consultants must tailor their education to highlight both subjects. A bachelor's degree program in business administration can give graduates a solid understanding of the financial requirements of running a successful business, as well as healthcare basics.

Some schools offer business degrees with an option to concentrate in healthcare administration or healthcare business management degrees. In addition to business courses, these degree programs usually include courses such as healthcare delivery systems, healthcare management, and healthcare information systems.

To really shine, take some marketing courses. Marketing is a crucial part of launching a successful career as a consultant. Familiarity with marketing strategies and methods can give future consultants a helpful boost in landing clients.

Step 2: Choose a Specialty and Gain Experience

The healthcare system in the United States is extremely vast and increasingly specialized. Specializing in one aspect of medical business allows the aspiring consultant to become an expert in that specialty instead of an individual with broad, general knowledge. A range of specialties are available, including liability, information technology, billing and collections, financial management, and practice management.

Gaining an entry-level position in health services or medical management can help narrow down an aspiring consultant's field of specialty. Hands-on experience is also an important factor in developing the advanced skills and professional expertise that clients will later expect from a medical business consultant. According to AHIMA, having at least two years of experience is crucial for a consultant to gain professional expertise and build credibility.

Step 3: Get a Master's Degree

Earning a master's degree is another way to increase credibility and create a reputation as a subject-matter expert. Typically, aspiring consultants should match the master's degree program with their chosen specialty. For example, a medical business consultant specializing in information technology can earn a master's degree in healthcare information systems. Another option is a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in healthcare administration, a degree that combines advanced business courses with such courses as managerial economics and healthcare legal issues.

Step 4: Become a Medical Business Consultant

Prospective consultants can apply their education and experience to jobs with hospitals, private firms, or other businesses. Self-employment is another option for experienced consultants. The AHIMA recommends developing a business plan and gathering resources for start-up operations before starting a consulting business. When calculating a start-up budget, aspiring consultants should consider factors such as marketing expenses, office set-up requirements, and the dues for any relevant professional memberships or associations.

Another important step in growing a medical consulting business is to connect with possible clients and/or employers. This can be done in a variety of ways, including writing articles for professional associations or publications, advertising, creating a website, and participating in speaking engagements.

Step 5: Consider Obtaining Professional Certification

Gaining certification may lead to career advancement or expanded job opportunities because it demonstrates a high level of professional expertise. One available option is the Certified Healthcare Business Consultant (CHBC) credential issued by the National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants (NSCHBC). To be eligible for CHBC certification, applicants must join the NSCHBC, apply for the certification, and pass a certification test.

To recap, with a postsecondary degree and experience, as well as possible certification, a medical business consultant can make about $77,000 a year to help improve productivity, increase revenue, and provide business-related support and guidance for medical practices or facilities.

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