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What is a Healthcare Consultant?

What is a Healthcare Consultant?

The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is highly competitive and continues to evolve rapidly, meaning that organizations need to constantly understand and execute new ways to stay ahead of the curve and optimize opportunities. This is where healthcare consultants can play an integral part. With broad experience across the sector and consulting expertise, many companies seek to achieve their goals with the confidence that comes from professional analysis and guidance from individuals and teams within strategic healthcare consultancies.

A pharmaceutical, biotech or medtech organization within the healthcare sector will typically hire an individual consultant or consultancy firm to work on a particular project or programs of work. Some are engaged, particularly by large companies, on a full-time or recurring basis to ensure that they are always seeking and implementing optimal approaches and identifying new methods of improvement. Consultants are often employed by companies that would benefit from a strategic partner’s advice to help reach its ambitions, or where an organization is walking into unknowns or anticipates transformational change. A consultancy firm, like Cello Health, can help support, devise and implement strategy, reorganization or restructuring programs where necessary.

The conclusions and recommendations that healthcare consultants draw from their analyses, organizational interactions and specific project challenges will ultimately help organizations create or amend their current strategies, as well as recommend innovative new methods and uncover potential opportunities to increase their overall effectiveness.

What do healthcare consultants do?

When a healthcare organization employs a consulting firm it is usually to discuss a specific challenge. For a company like Cello Health, this might be how best to plan and prepare the organization for the launch of a new drug or device.  The consultant or consultancy team will carry out preliminary desk research and examine existing and relevant data in order to assess how best to approach the challenges. As consultancies develop a hypothesis, they may also interview cross-functional and global/regional members of the organization. They will likely deliver ‘detective-like’ primary research and analysis which may include insights into the competitor landscape, scientific data, patient, doctor and healthcare stakeholder needs, as well as a broad number of complex factors.

After analyzing all of the data and information, the consultant will recommend methodologies and plans to address the issues specific to the challenge and the goals. The consultant will often deliver a robust and decisive strategy or a directional report specifying key steps that must be taken to optimize performance.

Frequently, consultants will set up and facilitate meetings between different functions and levels of seniority within the organization (as well as external subject matter experts) to align on focused areas of improvement and actions that must be taken. If required, a company may hire a healthcare consultant to oversee and implement the suggested course of action. The general goal for all healthcare consultants remains the same – to create and deliver strategies by collaborating with the client to help them navigate complexity, address their challenges and achieve their business goals, in this sector which ultimately means improving patient care.

How to become a healthcare consultant

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing job sectors, while management consulting is an expanding field.

Although there are a variety of ways to become a healthcare consultant such as through completing relevant apprenticeship schemes, there is a more common path via education that many professional consultants have taken.

Education and work experience path toward becoming a healthcare consultant

The minimum education level you will need to become a healthcare consultant is a bachelor’s degree. As this is a competitive industry, a degree in science, engineering, business, medical and public health qualifications will be directly relevant; however, other translatable areas of study may also serve you well in this role.

 Advanced education, such as a Master’s degree, is usually the next step for those seeking more engaged roles. Some employers place a strong focus on candidates that possess a Master’s degree or higher. Many courses are designed to set you up for a role within the industry, such as an MBA, Masters of Engineering or MSc (Master of Science) in Health Management, which provides the necessary business skills for managers in healthcare, pharmaceuticals and management consultancy.

 Individuals who attain their PhD will find their advanced scientific expertise adds value to client interactions in a significant way, as some of the most important business decisions for our clients are guided by scientifically informed business strategy advice.

Once you’ve gained the desired academic qualifications, the final step towards a career as a healthcare consultant involves gaining valuable on-the-job experience. Related work experience can be partially completed through the duration of your studies, as a related degree typically includes hands-on learning in a healthcare environment.

However, voluntary work, job-shadowing, unpaid internships and co-ops should never be undervalued. You will stand out in the recruitment process if you have demonstrated interest and experience in a pharma/biotech or healthcare related setting, whether that’s working in a doctor’s office, hospital, nursing home or mental health clinic.

A client having a meeting with a healthcare consultant.

How healthcare consultant firms add value across the drug discovery process

Healthcare consultancy firms deploy individuals or teams of consultants (depending on workflow and client demand), to analyze the challenges their clients are facing and work towards resolving them. Depending on the phase in the process, the consultants provide strategic consultation tailored to the representative challenges. For example, in the preclinical phase, consultants will use their extensive scientific knowledge to meet the client at their critical scientific decision points and provide business strategy insights to drive their work.

The firms that specialize in business strategy are often pursued by pharmaceutical and biotech clients to support them in some of the following areas:

Research and Development

 Scientific Researchers within pharmaceutical and biotech organizations are responsible for carrying out pre-clinical and clinical research and trials to test and discover new medicines and therapeutics. The consultancy firm will work with these teams to collaborate on decisions including, application of the science, clinical trial design, device design, research investments, clinical endpoints and regulatory interactions.

Business Development

 This Team is involved with the buying and selling of pharmaceutical or biotechnology products and technologies in order to achieve their goals through partnering and acquisition.  There are a whole series of activities that companies need to address around strategic, scientific and commercial issues to ensure they achieve success. The consulting firm will often work across a range of scientific and commercial challenges including search and evaluation, opportunity assessments, partner selection, forecasts and valuations, negotiations and alliance management

 Medical Affairs

These medical teams help to educate and engage scientists, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders around the science and data associated with a drug, technology or new diagnostic. Healthcare consultants will often support the medical affairs teams with the development of their scientific narrative, develop their publications plan, support congress activity, engage Key Opinion Leaders and to develop their communication strategies and messaging.

Commercial Team

Commercial teams include functions such as sales, marketing, market research, market access and launch excellence. These teams are focused on ensuring the drugs and devices achieve long-term commercial and financial success.  Consulting firms often work across these teams on various projects and programs, for instance, defining the brand plan, supporting launch planning, delivering market research studies with patients and physicians, defining the pricing strategy and engaging payers and regulators to ensure the drugs can be accessed by patients.

At Cello Health, we are pride ourselves on having built engaged consulting teams who act as partners to guide the journey of our clients. Through our colleagues’ diverse perspectives, we bring uniquely informed professional expertise to our work. We invite you to learn more about our talented Cello Health colleagues across the globe, who are committed to fresh thinking and consistently work toward the “pursuit of better” every day. Click here to hear directly from our team about working for Cello Health.

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