healthcare consulting

How to Evaluate When You Need a Consultant

Views about external consultants tend to fall into two broad camps.

  • First, they are “idea-spreaders” who often bring a number of creative thoughts to bear, but without any of them necessarily being very practical.
  • Second, they are seen as “force-fitters,” implementing the shareholders’ wishes, usually cost cuts or crisis management.

These views are unfortunate stereotypes and the truth is that an external consultant’s value to a healthcare provider is likely to be proven in different ways.  In general terms this is by being a conduit to best-practices in organizations everywhere, both within the healthcare industry and outside it.

When can this be a truly beneficial contribution is for a provider that is already trying to juggle many priorities and can only spare so much time to accept any kind of external input. In this regard, a simple framework to evaluate whether of not to engage a consultant and what to ask of them might be helpful:

When is it Time to Engage a Consultant?

  • Are some patient needs not being met?
  • Do we fully understand our patient population, both current and prospective?
  • Are key processes inefficient or ineffective?
  • Is our supply chain optimized?
  • Are we struggling to cope with internal or external change?
  • Are our employees as goal directed, well-aligned and motivated as they could be?
  • Are costs rising, profits falling or cash flows negative?
  • Does the business need more capital to change, innovate or grow?

What Should I Ask an External Consultant?

  • What knowledge or expertise do you have in understanding customer needs?
  • With which markets are you most familiar, and what projects in them have you done?
  • What specific operational/process changes have you made and what tangible benefits did these achieve?
  • Where do you see the greatest potential for greater efficiency and effectiveness in a business like ours?
  • What are the best practices you’ve seen around people and teams
  • How are people best motivated in your view?
  • Where does scope to cost saving most tend to occur and why?
  • If we could find 10% of our budget as additional cash flow where might we be best spending it, in your view?

These question are all designed to help the provider to assess whether a consultant can not only give credible answers to these questions but shows a real appreciation of how they might be practically applied in the environment in which it needs to work.

Get a Free Consultation with RX4

Dr Jon WarnerDr. Jon Warner

CEO-RX4 Group-The Business of Healthcare

Jon is the CEO of RX4 Group based in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at

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