In 2009 when I began recruiting in the Healthcare IT consulting industry, hiring was smooth sailing. I worked for a contract staffing agency and my former colleague Paul told me, “It’s so easy.” Since then, the healthcare IT consulting industry has been through a few phases. It was white hot from 2010 to 2012 and today the market has softened significantly.
As the market has shifted, so have hiring requirements. In the years between 2010 and 2012 there was a shortage of healthcare IT consultants and client requirements boiled down to essentially the ability to build applications and hold applicable certifications. However, now that our market has cooled, there are many more contractors available and clients have choices. This is elementary supply and demand at work; as consultant supply has increased, demand has changed and clients can be much more selective in their contractor hiring.
Clients aren’t just looking for a system builder anymore. There are a few other key skill sets that a consultant can highlight to make him/herself stand out amongst the plethora of contractors in the market today.
- Operations or Clinical Background – As EHRs mature or hospitals only implement model systems, clients will be looking for consultants that can help the optimize their systems including workflows, processes, and the way they all work together. Future optimization efforts won’t just focus on re-training use of the system, but how better process in conjunction with the system will help hospitals increase productivity with fewer resources. Those with operational backgrounds will have a leg up in their ability to understand healthcare workflows and provide consulting services related to both process improvement and health IT.
- Communication Skills – Oral and written communication skills are crucial for consultants today. The days of a consultant sitting in a silent corner just building and not talking are through. Clients will require interviews often with senior level project executives to ensure their consultants can interact with physicians or director level operations staff. If you as a consultant cannot aptly articulate how you can help a potential client, in this market, you may not get the contract.
- Multi-Faceted Knowledge – Budgets are crunched and hospitals are looking to accomplish more with less resources, therefore the most successful consultants will be those that can do more than one thing. I would highly encourage you to widen your skill set outside of one or two modules of an application and if possible, acquire skills in both clinical and Revenue Cycle.
Good luck, consultants!