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How to Become a Home-Based Healthcare Consultant

How to Become a Home-Based Healthcare ConsultantConsultancy is one of the most adequate lines of business if you want to work independently from home. You need little equipment, your main assets being your skills and experience in your niche. Today we will show you how to start a home-based healthcare consultancy business.

What Does a Healthcare Consultant Do?
Healthcare consultants are hired by hospital and other healthcare companies to analyze and improve their operations and the way they run their business. The ultimate goal in a healthcare consultant’s job is to advise healthcare providers in a way which enables them to provide better services to patients and improve their bottom line.

This used to be a full-time position in the organizational scheme of most healthcare providers. However, the economic crisis and the need to cut back operational costs has determined most hospitals and other healthcare organizations to replace employees with freelance consultants. For you, as a potential home-based business healthcare consultant, this means that there is a thriving market where you can find customers and that it is not a short-term bubble, but it has the potential to provide you with a sufficient income for your family for years to come.

So, what does it take to become a home-based healthcare consultant?

Education and Skills Required for Healthcare Consultants
The minimum educational level required is a Bachelor’s degree, although many healthcare providers require a Master’s degree in one of these specializations:
⦁ Business Administration
⦁ Healthcare Administration
⦁ Human Resources

Management experience in the healthcare field is a plus, but not always required, especially if you offer your services to smaller clinics and other organizations. As for the core skills you must have strong communication and analytical skills, be good with math and be savvy in coming up with effective solutions. You must also be a good decision maker, with a high level of accountability for the outcomes of your proposed solutions.

If you recognize yourself in this description, you could be a successful healthcare consultant. If you want to work as an independent consultant, these are a few tips to set up your home-based business:

1. Obtain All Necessary Certifications
Each state has different certification requirements for home-based businesses when they are connected to the healthcare field. Even though your activities are not connected to providing actual medical services to customers, you will have access to various sensitive data. Thus, apart for the usual licenses for running a home-based business, you also need to hold specific data processing certifications.

2. Secure Your IT Equipment and Filing System
Apart from the legal certifications above, potential customers will also require you to sign non-disclosure agreements. They will also want you to offer proofs that you can keep their confidential data secure. Thus, you need to invest in effective antivirus solutions for your computer and all data storage devices.

While it is always recommended to have a separate computer for your home-based business and not allow your family to work on it, if you want to open a healthcare consultancy business it is mandatory. You will potentially receive financial and patient records from your customers and other confidential materials. No one but you must have access to them, not even read them.

3. Capitalize on Your Professional Background and Reputation
As we have stated above, being a home-based healthcare consultant is not a line a business you can take up overnight, but after years of experience in the field with a proven track record. This means that you must definitely have great networking skills and persuade your business acquaintances and, where possible, former employers to provide you with credentials and testimonials.

This is a line of business where reputation is everything, so take care to keep yours spotless. Be ethical and fair in dealing with all your customers and maintain good relationships with former co-workers or clients. A positive endorsement from any of them is the best marketing strategy for attracting new clients for your home-based business


Health Insurance Options for Home-Based Businesses

health-insurance-options-for-home-based-businessesAs a home-based business owner, one of the top challenges you have to face is finding affordable health insurance solutions for you and your family. Most health insurance plans for companies offer good rates for large groups. Individual plans are more expensive and this is one of the reasons why people stick to jobs they are no longer enthusiastic about – because the job offers health insurance coverage.

Entrepreneurs do not have this safety net and find it difficult to juggle their expenses in such a manner as to squeeze in an expensive individual health insurance plan. However, there are ways in which you can benefit from your entrepreneurial position and gain access to more affordable insurance policies for you and your family. It will not happen overnight, right after you opened your business, but with perseverance you will be able to cover your family’s future healthcare expenses.

These are some of the options which you should look into and choose the one which fits your situation:

1. Join Other Home-Based Business Owners
When you join forces with others, you will definitely gain negotiating power. As a single person, even as the owner of a LLC or S-CORP, you have zero arguments for negotiating terms and conditions to your advantage with insurers. As part of a group of, say, 15-20 entrepreneurs, all home-based business owners like you, the situation changes.

As far-fetched as it seems, it is perfectly legal to form a group with other people in your position and negotiate health insurance rates for the respective group. Insurers only care that they will have a significant group of people signing up and paying monthly premiums. To give your group juridical power, you can register it at your local chamber of commerce, alumni association or trade organization.

2. Join a Professional Association
Find out what professional organizations you are eligible to join and then start exploring the various options they have for members. Professional organizations do not exist only to add an extra line on your resume. Members actively assist and help each other, form business partnerships, and provide support (up to their abilities) in a similar manner to a trade union, and offer business and learning opportunities to its members.

3. Seek Small Business Health Insurance Plans
Some insurers will offer health insurance coverage for small businesses under the “group of one” structure. Its terms are slightly better for you than those of an individual health insurance, but still no match for those you would obtain as part of a larger group.

The next aspect you should consider, once you have selected an insurer, is the type of health insurance you want to opt for. There will be so many terms and acronyms thrown at you, that you will probably get lost in translation. Here is a quick and clear explanation of what you can choose from:
⦁ Fee-for-Service (FFS): with this type of health insurance plan you are free to select your hospital and doctor of choice. You will make your own appointments, pay for medical services out of your pocket and then submit a reimbursement claim to the insurer. This is the most flexible health insurance type from the point of view of freedom of choice, but also the most expensive;
⦁ Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO): with this health insurance option, everything is managed by the insurer. They schedule your appointments, select the hospital and the doctor who will see you, and determine the need for any medical intervention or treatment;
⦁ Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO): you get (somewhat) the best of both worlds with this plan. You will be offered a list of hospitals and doctors affiliated to the insurer and you are free to select one of them and make your own appointments.

There is one last option you should know about: the health savings account (HSA). This is not health insurance per se, but it is a special type of account where you can deposit pre-tax money, be able to deduct a portion on your tax return and use in case of incapacitating illness or urgent and expensive medical interventions.

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