As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and organizations grapple with changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), use of consulting firms is growing. Hospitals and smaller providers, who seek assistance in areas such as ACA compliance and electronic health record (EHR) implementation, are by and large the greatest users of consulting services, making up more than half of the market. Other organizations that routinely use consultants include government clients, medical device companies, and insurance companies, who may turn to consultants for help with everything from strategic direction to human resources issues.
To keep in step with current legislation and industry trends, consulting firms are continually shifting their focus—and competition among them is fierce. According to Hospitals and Health Networks Magazine, there are certain considerations that companies should heed when sourcing healthcare consultants. These include a firm’s overall reputation in the market, expertise in complex healthcare issues (e.g., trends and the regulatory climate), and quality control (how a firm rates the value of work performed by clients). Hiring a consultant can be costly. Selecting a reputable company with a track record of producing results for its clients can help set the stage for success. This is where some of America’s largest consulting firms excel.
America’s top healthcare consulting firms
In 2017, Vault Rankings and Reviews asked consultants nationwide to rate the top healthcare consulting firms in their practice areas. Following are the top five.
- McKinsey & Company: Headquartered in New York City, McKinsey & Company was founded in 1926 by James McKinsey, an accounting professor. While it began as an accounting and management firm, McKinsey serves a diverse array of industries that includes healthcare, oil and gas, and retail. The firm employs 20,500 people and has 105 offices in over 60 countries.
How McKinsey works with healthcare clients: McKinsey’s Healthcare Systems & Services team, which includes more than 1,700 consultants across the globe, advises clients in areas such as clinical operations, technology and information strategy, and integrated care.
- The Boston Consulting Group (BCG): Established in 1963 as a corporate management consulting firm, BCG employs 12,000 people in 85 offices and 48 countries, making it one of the nation’s largest private companies. In addition to its healthcare expertise, this firm serves clients in the energy, insurance, technology, and financial services as well as and other industries.
How BCG works with healthcare clients: BCG works with payers and providers on issues such as managing healthcare costs and quality, value-based healthcare and creating consumer-centered business models.
- Deloitte: Also located in New York, Deloitte has been advising clients for over 100 years. In addition to a Life Sciences and Healthcare division, the firm works with companies in manufacturing, real estate, and construction, and a variety of other industries. With more than 65 locations throughout the world, Deloitte has approximately 29,000 employees.
How Deloitte works with healthcare clients: Deloitte helps providers and health plans make the shift to value-based care while maintaining regulatory compliance. The firm also works with life sciences companies to adapt to a changing global landscape while driving innovation.
- Bain & Company: In business since 1973, this Boston-based firm is considered to be among the most prestigious in the world. Its clients hail from sectors such as healthcare, media, technology, and metals and mining. Bain is a global firm, with more than 6,000 employees in 53 offices in 34 countries.
How Bain & Company works with healthcare clients: Bain works with pharmaceutical companies, medical technology companies, and payers to meet regulatory requirements while evolving to meet changing consumer preferences.
- Huron Consulting Group: Huron specializes in the healthcare, life sciences, commercial, and higher education industries. With a workforce of more than 2,600, the Chicago firm was named one of Forbes’ Best Employers in 2016. It was also named one of the 2015 Best Firms to Work For by Consulting magazine for the fifth year in a row.
How Huron Consulting Group works with healthcare clients: Huron partners with healthcare organizations to adapt to new payment structures, navigate regulatory changes, manage the costs of care, and transition to a population health model.
The pros and cons
Partnering with a major consulting firm has distinct advantages, including a larger talent pool to draw from, broader geographical reach, and the credibility of a strong brand name, particularly when presenting recommendations to stakeholders. However, there can be drawbacks to partnering with large firms—such as higher fees and less one-on-one attention. Niche consulting firms may have more specialized industry knowledge and offer comprehensive expertise in certain areas. Smaller firms also tend to be more agile and readily able to adapt their business model to changing trends. What’s more, since hierarchies aren’t as prevalent in niche firms, clients are more likely to have their projects staffed by experienced, senior-level consultants.
Having insight into the nation’s top consulting firms and how they operate can help you make an informed decision when choosing which consulting jobs to apply for.