As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and organizations grapple with changes brought on by the COVID pandemic and the continuing evolution of component parts of the industry, the use of healthcare consulting firms keeps on 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.
According to Hospitals and Health Networks Magazine, there are certain considerations that companies should heed when sourcing healthcare consultants. These include the following:
- a firm’s overall reputation in the market
- expertise in complex healthcare issues (e.g., trends and the regulatory climate)
- 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 2021, Vault Rankings and Reviews asked consultants nationwide to rate the top healthcare consulting firms in their practice areas. The following are the top ten.
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.
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.
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.
This firm has been described as the “advisory and activation arm” of GE Healthcare. Relatively new to this list, GE Healthcare Partners is unique in the industry because of it relationship to GE Health, a $178B global tech leader with more than 100 years in the industry.
How GE Healthcare Partners works with healthcare clients: The firm emphasizes collaboration with its provider partners and tries to understand the legacy of the organization while at the same time working with them to introduce technologies and processes to help transform their organization to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
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.
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.
Patricia Salber, MD, MBA
Patricia Salber, MD, MBA is the Founder. CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of The Doctor Weighs In (TDWI). Founded in 2005 as a single-author blog, it has evolved into a multi-authored, multi-media health information site with a global audience. She has worked hard to ensure that TDWI is a trusted resource for health information on a wide variety of health topics. Moreover, Dr. Salber is widely acknowledged as an important contributor to the health information space, including having been honored by LinkedIn as one of ten Top Voices in Healthcare in both 2017 and 2018.
Dr. Salber has a long list of peer-reviewed publications as well as publications in trade and popular press. She has published two books, the latest being “Connected Health: Improving Care, Safety, and Efficiency with Wearables and IoT solutions. She has hosted podcasts and video interviews with many well-known healthcare experts and innovators. Spreading the word about health and healthcare innovation is her passion.
She attended the University of California Berkeley for her undergraduate and graduate studies and UC San Francisco for medical school, internal medicine residency, and endocrine fellowship. She also completed a Pew Fellowship in Health Policy at the affiliated Institute for Health Policy Studies. She earned an MBA with a health focus at the University of California Irvine.
She joined Kaiser Permanente (KP)where she practiced emergency medicine as a board-certified internist and emergency physician before moving into administration. She served as the first Physician Director for National Accounts at the Permanente Federation. And, also served as the lead on a dedicated Kaiser Permanente-General Motors team to help GM with its managed care strategy. GM was the largest private purchaser of healthcare in the world at that time. After leaving KP, she worked as a physician executive in a number of health plans, including serving as EVP and Chief Medical Officer at Universal American.
She consults and/or advises a wide variety of organizations including digital start-ups such as CliniOps, My Safety Nest, and Doctor Base (acquired). She currently consults with Duty First Consulting as well as Faegre, Drinker, Biddle, and Reath, LLP.
Pat serves on the Board of Trustees of MedShare, a global humanitarian organization. She chairs the organization’s Development Committee and she also chairs MedShare's Western Regional Council.
Dr. Salber is married and lives with her husband and dog in beautiful Marin County in California. She has three grown children and two granddaughters with whom she loves to travel.