Consulting gigs are abundant. But finding the right healthcare consulting clients is a bit more nuanced. You don’t want to get stuck doing busy-work and likely prefer to work with clients who understand your limitation.
No healthcare consultant was born a consultant – we all grew into the role. No matter how big of a head they have. They all started answering a single question and eventually realized that they enjoyed the topic and wanted to learn more about it.
And the current pandemic in healthcare startups is that there aren’t enough physicians involved in these ventures early on. This creates a lot of products which aren’t as useful as they should be.
The Ideal Consulting Client
I could fill a page with topics in healthcare consulting. You can get as focused as you like and you will have plenty of clients. From HIPAA to the Mental Health Parity Act.
One client is looking for a healthcare consultant who can lead an engineering team. Another is looking to understand what HIPAA really is. The knowledge you have on a particular topic might seem banal, but not to your client.
The entrepreneur who is getting his 3rd company off the ground knows every big player in their industry and knows how to put the perfect team together. But they may not understand the relevance of NHANES data, SDoH, or NLP.
The ideal client also understands that you’re not the world expert on the topic. No such pedigree is often needed. Just that you know enough to get them into the game. And that hopefully you’re willing to to learn more and have the right resources to grow with this particular client.
Finding the Client
You might have 3 different topics of interest. Licensing of Surgery Centers, Inpatient Billing, and Data Integration in EHR’s. All over the place, yes, but each is interests you in some fashion.
Starting out for free might seem foreign but it’s the cheapest marketing you’ll do. Unless your pedigree dictates otherwise, it’s nice to get a few consulting victims out of the way. You don’t have to be an expert in this. Simply be well-read on the topic. Know which resources to turn to and maybe have someone you can ping when in a jam.
Either the client can find you or you can proactively chase leads. Linkedin is great for this. Your own website or podcast is another way for potential clients to find you. Your profile doesn’t have to be sexy or polished. Work on it every few months, slowly build it up. Once you’re ready to go pro, you can hire a strategist to polish up your online profile.
Healthcare startups are another easy resource. These individuals are usually well connected and passionate. They will drop your name left and right. Don’t worry about competition, most will make you sign a NDA.
Writing on Your Topic
The reason I recommend writing on the topics you’re interested in is because technology is designed to find the loudest person in the room. Knowledge is ubiquitous. Chances are slim that you’ll know the most about telemedicine. Or that you are the world authority on Natural Language Processing. But if you are easily found, you got a leg up on the competition.
The words you enter on a website or an online e-book are searchable. They can be linked to other platforms. It’s a way to offer a taste of your knowledge without having to pay for advertising.
If you’re writing about Personal Health Technology on your website then search engines will disseminate your content online. If you subscribe to other authors who are interested in the same topic and leave meaningful comments there, you are dropping digital breadcrumbs which potential clients can follow.
You don’t have to be available on every single SM platform. Maybe Twitter is your jam. For others, especially in the mHealth space, IG might be better. Often times, others will do the work for you and spread your content.
Start writing about what you know online. Offer your knowledge for free and you’ll attract the kind of transparent client whom you’ll enjoy working with. Review new research articles on your topic of interest. Summarize news articles on your website. Perhaps, review books on your niche topic.
Link to other content. Don’t be a tool and link for the sake of linking. Noise isn’t music and the good clients can tell the difference. If you have written an informative piece on a topic, link it on another website, share it with a particular group. Discuss why your content is relevant and where it falls short. Add value.
Find your group. It’s nice to have a following. Maybe you can have Twitter followers, IG followers, FB or LI. But you need a few people who have similar interests and can share their own knowledge with you. Cooperation often will help both of you out.
Contact healthcare startups. I’ve found that those who go through the trouble of starting a company often have a passion. It’s rarely money. Maybe they want to bridge technology and health. Maybe they want to provide access to women. Or they want to create a new payment model in healthcare. Share your content with them, ask them how you might be able to help out.
Reply to emails. If you’re stretched too thin then you might miss the email from a potential client. Many do, in fact. If you get an email, reply promptly, succinctly, and thoughtfully. You don’t know if the emailer is a CEO or just a tire kicker. Later on you can be more discerning.
Ask the right questions. When you’re trying to connect with someone in your space, especially someone with a place on the scoreboard, don’t ask the same question they get 15 times a day. Be creative, ask the right question which will benefit you and be engaging to them.
Let yourself be found. If you have enough content out there to be “searchable” then you should offer many ways for someone to interact with you. Don’t be afraid of leaving your email, cell phone, or SM handle for others to reach you. And they will reach you. What do you think an entrepreneur is doing online with their time? Not watching kitten videos.
Learn about your topic and learn the vocabulary. Learn the vocabulary and learn the grammar. If you’re writing ‘healthcare’ while others are searching for ‘health care’, you might not connect. There might be 7 ways of writing and talking about personal health technology – from wearables to implantables to mHealth.
Refer your colleagues. There is a particular lawyer, an MD/JD, whom I’ve recommended to my healthcare consulting clients. She’s often well received. And in turn she has dropped my name. We never agreed to this arrangement, she simply reciprocated my actions.
Take a course. You spent $200k on your medical education, hopefully it was a good investment. Don’t be afraid to spend a couple thousand on learning more. Attend conferences on your topic of interest. Purchase a course to help you get past the initial hurdles, such as the one I have for sale on this website: Healthcare Consulting Basics for Physicians.