Consulting firms an option if you can stand the travel

Chargemaster experience desired

For an access professional who doesn't mind packing for extended stays and spending a lot of time in airports, there could be a lucrative job waiting in the consulting field, says Tom Bennett, a director with Intech Summit Group, a San Diego-based retained search firm that specializes in health care and does most of its business in professional services.

"We focus on very specific [needs], and we periodically talk with people in a hospital or health care system who have been there for many years," Bennett adds. "Many consulting companies won't consider them. On the other hand, there are clients who are open to recruiting people from industry."

The primary reason consulting firms often rule out industry candidates, he says, is concern about whether the person could get used to the amount of travel involved.

"Even though we explain that it will require 85% or 90% of time [away from home]," Bennett adds, people initially think they can handle it but find out later they can't.

In addition, consulting firms are "very specific in their requirements and have high expectations relative to a person's background," he says. Typically, that means someone who has a master's degree and is fairly well known in the field, Bennett explains, as opposed to "someone who has sat at a desk and worked and nobody knows who they are."

"Many times people who have been in one organization all their life are kind of limited in the exposure they have dealing with a variety of personalities," he notes.

As for the kinds of experience being sought by these firms, Bennett says, someone who has worked with a chargemaster within the revenue cycle function is particularly desirable. "I hear [often], 'We want somebody with a chargemaster background.'"

"I'm also seeing more people [placed] who have revenue cycle strategy and information technology strategy backgrounds, as well as a strategy and operations background," he adds.

The salary for an access professional coming from a hospital background and known to be good at what he or she does could range from $70,000 to more than $200,000, Bennett says.

"It depends on the person — there are a lot of gradations," he adds. "If you've been at a hospital in the revenue cycle for eight or nine years, a realistic range is $110,000 to $160,000.

"[Consulting firms] want people who are able to look at the revenue cycle and see how it fits within the whole hospital system," Bennett says. "They need to be able to look at the organization and where it stands today, define where it wants to be, and then build a strategy."

[Editor's note: Tom Bennett can be reached at (858) 964-4602 or by e-mail at tbennett@isgsearch.com.]