Guide to Successfully Working as a Consultant in the Healthcare IT Industry – Part Two

So you have made the decision to get into consulting.   What is your next step?

I have a very strong belief that each person that goes to “work” each day should view themselves as offering a service to the marketplace.  For the following example, let’s say your area of specialty is building medication order sets for a particular hospital software application.  In this case, the customer of your services will be a hospital that is installing the software that you specialize in working with.  The hospital is your customer.

In order to have a lengthy career as a consultant, you will have to have a way to continually identify hospitals that are going to be embarking on projects that will need the skills you have to offer.  Without consistent knowledge these organizations, you will have a difficult time earning a living.  But, that does not mean that you have to be able to get these engagements yourself.

Now, some consultants do actually find engagements on their own.  But let’s face it, most of you reading this are saying to yourselves, “if I have to make sales calls to find my own work I don’t want any part of the consulting business”.  And the reality is you won’t have to if you don’t want to.  But, you will need to find an organization to partner with that can give you access to the engagements you are looking for.  This is where the different types of organizations and the varying types of relationships you can have with these organizations come into play.

Basically, there are two types of relationships you can have with a consulting organization.

  • A salaried employee of an organization or
  • An hourly contract employee of an organization.

As a “salaried” employee, you are paid whether are on a project or not.   As an employee, you are generally offered a benefit package which will vary depending on the organization.  The second is to work with them on an “hourly contract basis,” where you are paid an hourly rate for the hours you work.  But you are not paid when you are not working. There are different types of structures that can be in place when you are paid on an hourly bases.  You can still have a W2 relationship (and benefits could be offered) with the organization you are working with or you can have a “Corp to Corp” relationship with the organization.  I will go into more detail into the different types of “hourly paid” relationships in another post.  But for this discussion, the point is to briefly define the two.

In the consulting marketplace, you will generally find that the organizations that will hire consultants as their salaried employees will also, when needed, hire consultants on an hourly contract basis.  Also, there are many firms in the market that only hire consultants on an hourly contract basis.

In my next posting, I will begin to give you some of the main differentiators between the different types of organizations you can work for or partner with.  Determining which type of organization is best for you will be determined greatly by your overall personality type as well as the reason why you decided to get into consulting in the first place (which I discussed in the previous post).

The main point in this posting that I am trying to get across is that, at the end of the day, you are providing a service that a hospital or healthcare organization is going to be purchasing.  Unless you are going to find consulting engagements on your own, you are going to have to figure out which type or consulting organization and what type of relationship with that organization is going to work best for you.  They are not all the same and when I get into more details, you will see that what they offer and the cultures they have can be wildly different!

About the author

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David Kushan

David Kushan is the President of Healthcare IS and has spent the last 18 years of his career working in the Healthcare Information Technology industry assisting over 120 healthcare organizations nationwide. Visit www.HealthcareIS.com for Dave’s company blog, articles, podcasts and more.

2 Comments

  • Thanks for this article David. I have a B.S. in Computer Science and worked for 2 and a half years as a software developer. I was laid-off in 2009 and have not been successful in finding a job in the IT industry. I got my A+ certification and plan to do a Healthcare IT course as a Technical/Software Support Staff or Implementation Support Specialist. What do you think the prospects are in me getting a job in the healthcare IT field after being unemployed for more than 2 years. Would I be able to get into consulting with only a certifcate in either of these fields? Thanks in advance for your answer. I really need some guidance on this.

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