Now more than ever, many healthcare IT professionals are finding unconventional avenues for work. In particular, the current era of social distancing has resulted in a rise in remote work, encouraging many folks to operate for the first time as freelance consultants. On-prem requirements are loosened and health organizations are realizing just how few jobs really need to be done on site or even by a fully employed resource. Many employers that are finding creative ways to innovate their workforce are simultaneously turning to freelancers and contractors to carry out their EHR implementations and other critical functions. So how can a health IT consultant excel to stay competitive and pave for themselves a strong career path? We have a few ideas!
Keep In Touch With Healthcare IT Trends
This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many folks don’t heed the obvious. Healthcare IT trends don’t typically shift too drastically, but the solutions available certainly change often given the innovation in this space. Not to mention, most of us didn’t see a global health pandemic coming, but life happens and so hospitals and health organizations must pivot in response. Touching base with practicing healthcare providers, vendors, and clinical staff is a great way to get input from the frontlines, not to mention critical feedback that may be leveraged to improve software and implementation processes supported down the road.
Especially between engagements or as healthcare IT consultants bounce between focuses, subscribing to health technology blogs and staying plugged in to resources like LinkedIn can maintain a fresh perspective. The best way to serve future clients and hospitals is to ensure an understanding of current needs and trends to differentiate oneself in the hiring process, as well as elicit confidence in task execution.
Get your Scrubs On
Specialized training like Epic certification and PMP certification or any other product training and certification is great to bolster a resume and establish a defined knowledge base, but some of the best healthcare consultants we’ve worked with excel because they’ve been there…literally. Spending some time in scrubs can go a long way in directly informing a contractor with an understanding of how technology serves hospital physicians and clinical staff, what challenges they face in providing patient care or running their organization from an administrative perspective, and the nitty gritty of implementing healthcare solutions in a complex, secure environment.
While it may not be ideal (especially right now) to jump into direct patient care, that doesn’t preclude the ability of a consultant to engage with contacts to interview them for feedback or even arrange to shadow a “day in the life” for a deeper understanding of the industry.
Treat Every Interaction As Client Engagement
The freelance life is often romanticized with visions of working from fancy coffee shops or even poolside…which is entirely possible, we won’t deny. But the reality is that healthcare IT consultants wake up every day unemployed when between contracts/engagements. This means consultants must be motivated to generate ongoing contacts and potential streams of revenue and job leads. And the best way to do this: treat every interaction with someone in the healthcare world as a client engagement opportunity. You never know when chit chatting with clinical end users or the project team members during an EHR implementation can turn into long-term contacts that eventually land you additional work, either for the same client or an entirely new path. (Remember: there’s a lot of turnover in healthcare, so never think of relationships as fixed…including your own.)
Dive Into The Health IT Team Like It’s Your Own
The quickest way to avoid positioning oneself as an outsider is to behave like an insider. We’re not advocating for happy hour invites day one or acting like a know-it-all about the organization you’re serving. In fact, this is a paradoxical relationship because the more questions asked and the more enthusiasm for accepting tasks up for grabs, the quicker that a contractor can demonstrate a willingness to learn and adapt that will be well received. Sure, there is resistance at times to a new face on the team. But this can often be overcome when naysayers observe a full-steam-ahead attitude that gets the job done and ultimately demonstrates enough confidence and expertise to say, “I don’t know…tell me more.”
In the absence of cultivated soft skills, consultants can demonstrate a team player attitude by asking thoughtful questions, truly listening to everyone, and considering any task an opportunity to learn more and add value. No one is above rolling up their sleeves to contribute to the team, and every need is a chance to learn more and build both breadth and depth of experience.
Become A Consultant In Demand For Health Systems
Given the interconnectedness of modern health systems in pursuit of interoperability and strong technical integrations, showing up strong as a healthcare IT consultant is job security. Work is never promised, but that’s true to traditional full-time employment as well. Keeping a keen eye on providing value and delivering excellent customer service will properly orient consultants to maximize opportunity and secure future contracts without breaking a sweat.