Top 5 challenges facing healthcare consulting firms

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As the healthcare industry grows and evolves, so do its challenges. Consulting firms must stay a step ahead to deliver the critical recommendations their clients rely on.

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant is just one of the factors complicating operations for consulting firms in healthcare. New technologies, regulations and changing client needs also make an impact. Let’s take a look at five of the top concerns facing consulting organizations today.

1. New consulting firms are heating up the competition

The healthcare consulting industry has seen 3.7 percent growth per year on average since 2017. As corporate profits rise, providers are spending their newly available cash on consultants to further reduce risk and operational inefficiencies. More demand means more space in the market for fledgling firms and independent contractors, but also more pressure on the old dogs to learn new tricks.

Emerging consulting firms face an uphill climb to develop client relationships, acquire resources and establish efficient processes—but they hold the advantage in fresh faces, innovative ideas and untapped connections.

Newer, smaller firms and independent consultants can operate without the overhead of larger organizations. In many cases, these firms are focusing on highly specialized services or niche markets. Aided by automation, they can get a lot done with minimal staff, meaning they can charge less, too. This in turn puts pressure on the larger players, who need to maximize the value of their services to remain competitive.

2. Recruiting in a pandemic is tough

For most industries during COVID-19, talent acquisition and retention have been no walk in the park, but consulting firms face another hurdle: When a valued team member leaves, their clients may follow. Even if a client chooses to stay with the firm following personnel shifts, it may take a while to establish new and trusting relationships with their contact’s successor.

Consulting firms need to curb turnover to avoid potential client shakeups while also remaining agile enough to pick up new talent with innovative ideas or useful connections. If you’re having trouble finding someone who can meet your clients’ needs, you might try looking at who else your client knows and trusts.

Physicians, researchers and other healthcare opinion leaders make for valuable partners and team members for consulting firms. With the right data, recruiters can quickly identify rising stars and specialists around the world who can offer highly specific expertise and insights to their clients.

Claims, affiliation and location data can also help you build robust provider profiles that let your team determine the reach of potential talent—or identify providers who could benefit from your services.

3. Clients’ needs and expectations are shifting

Sometimes it seems like the only things changing faster than the healthcare industry are your client’s needs.  

Care is shifting from hospitals to physician groups, remote patient monitoring and telehealth services show no sign of slowing down, and the ubiquity of data-transmitting devices means cybersecurity is more of a concern than ever.

While you could wait for your client to fill you in on their latest concern, why not set yourself apart by showing that you can anticipate their needs?

Facility and claims data can fill you in on the technology and procedures that define their business—and their competitors’—so you can adapt your services to evolving trends. Combine those with insights on research, mergers and acquisitions, requests for proposals and certificates of need, and you’ll have the healthcare commercial intelligence you need to stay one step ahead.

4. Projects are becoming more complex

As data become more transparent and accessible to both sides of the healthcare consultant-client relationship, clients are more comfortable making highly particular and complex requests. They know how much data they have, and they think they know what you can do with it. Tack on the fact that client requests tend to increase in scope as your relationship matures, and your best accounts could also be your most straining.

Your next go-to-market strategy or product launch may be complicated further when your team is working remotely across geographic barriers and time zones (as is the case for about a quarter of the American workforce).

Establishing a single source of truth for data among your team ensures consistent recommendations and faster access to the data, analysis and reporting that your client demands.

When clients’ shifting goals require a project to change direction on the spot, an intuitive, reliable data source will help you avoid delays and keep profit margins intact.

5. Consulting profit margins are being squeezed

Clients’ willingness to shop around, overhead costs and high wage competition remain some of the biggest pressure points for consulting firms’ profit margins. You and your team can cut costs and bolster your margins by directing resources and efforts where data indicate they’re most useful.

The right data can help you find, quantify and compare untapped opportunities for your services. Medicare claims and affiliations data, for instance, offer insights into underserved markets. They also help you to align segments of the market with territory and account plans, so you can direct your clients toward the best investments.

Expediting the sales process can help you save on overhead, too. Leverage real-time data to match your services to the ideal client and close more business faster.

Learn more

Healthcare has always been complicated (yes, even before COVID-19), which is good news for the consulting firms that help their clients make sense of the industry.

Healthcare commercial intelligence from Definitive Healthcare can give your organization an edge. Using affiliations and location data and network relationships, you can better understand the market’s competitive landscape and get the context necessary to deliver highly valuable, differentiated insights to your clients.

Sign up for a free trial today and see how healthcare commercial intelligence can help you and your clients overcome the industry’s biggest challenges.

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