This week, I was reviewing Greythorn's website traffic analytics, and saw--not for the first time--how many people come to our site after asking Google how to become a healthcare IT consultant (here's the answer
most of them are looking for). I'm glad we can help with that question, but there's another that people aren't asking:
Should you become a healthcare IT consultant?
According to our 2016 Healthcare IT Market Report
, 71% of full-time HIT employees would consider going into consulting in the next year. But Craig Manchio, the Recruiting Manager for our LIVESite Training & Consulting Practice
, cautions that consulting isn't for everyone.
“There are aspects of consulting that some people would consider pros and others would consider cons. This is largely based on what fits with his or her lifestyle and interests,” he explained. “Potential consultants need to consider regular travel throughout the US and possibly abroad, living in hotels, eating out regularly, constant new challenges, adapting to new environments and technologies, and becoming adept at developing new short-term interpersonal relationships.”
Once you’ve decided that consulting is a good fit for your lifestyle, you’ll want to consider your compensation and perks. In most cases, consultants make more per hour than their salaried peers, but many are paying for their own insurance, taxes (instead of having them automatically withheld), and work-related expenses. Before signing a contract, you’ll need to work out if you’re actually getting a good deal (we’ve got a primer to help
you figure it out). Consultants also need to be clear before they sign on the dotted line whether they should file W2 or 1099 tax forms for their work (read our guide
). Getting this wrong at the beginning of your contract could create big (and expensive) problems down the line. Remember, the IRS focuses on the job duties and the logistics surrounding the deliverables to determine if a 1099 is appropriate. There’s still some gray area there, so it’s worth additional research.
After accepting a consulting contract, keeping current contract requirements in mind can be a challenge. Why? Because whether you’re working with a talent firm (ahem… like us) or directly for a health system, each hospital’s onboarding and compliance requirements are different. Sheri Jensen, Greythorn’s Sales Operations Manager, explains that it can be confusing, particularly with the onboarding process.
“I’ve had some consultants provide health screening documentation and believe they’re done, because those were the documents their past clients required,” she said. “However, the client we’re working with now requires an additional screening that the consultant wasn’t aware of because he or she didn’t read the fine print. That means by the time I review their submitted documents and see the requirements haven’t been met, the consultant has to scramble to get it done in time.”
Another area where consultants need to pay attention is to travel and expense policies. “If not provided up front, consultants should ask about travel and expense policies during the interview stage so they know if they’ll be able to adhere to it,” Sheri suggested. “Learning the parameters after accepting the offer is late in the game, and you could find yourself paying for things out of pocket as a result.”
To recap: only you can decide if HIT consulting is a fit, but you should definitely consider some important aspects before making the call.
- Can you handle regular travel and living out of hotels?
- Are you good at learning and working in new environments while forming interpersonal relationships?
- Do you know how much money you should be making to cover your expenses, taxes, etc.?
- Have you figured out if contract terms make you a W2 or 1099 employee?
- Are you ready to learn new onboarding processes and travel expense policies on a regular basis?
Becoming an HIT consultant can be rewarding, but it's important to know what you're getting into. For many, full-time healthcare IT jobs are just the right fit.
To see what full-time and contract opportunities Greythorn has available, check our featured HIT jobs
and current job board listings