Jim: Hi. I’m Jim Mangraviti from SEAK, and I’m here with SEAK’s president and founder, Steve Babitsky. Can you give me some specific examples of physician consultants that you’ve worked with, kind of, what they do, and who pays them for it?
Steve: Sure. We’ve had several people, we’ve had hundreds of people go through our consulting course. One example would be a physician who came through our consulting course and decided that she wanted to get into physician coaching. And after going through the course and working with her a little bit, she’s built up a successful physician coaching practice throughout the United States, and she’s extremely pleased with her new lifestyle. We’ve had physicians who we work with who have physician-hospital relations. As many doctors and others know, there’s all kinds of tension and stress in hospital settings. People are at each other’s throats and sometimes it could be very, very harmful to both the practices, the hospitals, and even to the well-being of the patients. And this physician goes into these settings, he meets with all of the parties, and he helps them resolve these kind of situations. He’s done extremely well, and actually, just recently, he gave up his clinical practice to devote his full time to his practice. I have an ophthalmologist I work with who specializes in billing and coding. As you know, there’s all kinds of problems with physicians being charged with upcoding. That could get you involved with Medicare fraud on audits for Medicare which could cause tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars and can lead to civil and criminal penalties. And this physician goes into practices, he reviews their coding and billing practices and advises them how to stay out of trouble. So, there’s a plethora of different types of areas of expertise, just a question of what the physician is good at and what people are willing to pay for.
Jim: Well, let’s talk about money. How much money can a doc make doing consulting?
Steve: Physician consulting is quite lucrative. It’s one of the few areas left for physicians that is not controlled by the government. You work on a contract basis with your clients. You can charge on an hourly basis, so you might charge $500 or $600 an hour. You can work on a contract basis. A couple of other advantages, you can earn what you’re really worth. It’s not like the situation where a physician was an emergency room physician has to go in the middle of the night and intubate a patient and then get paid $59. Here, you’re actually being paid what you’re worth. You can charge by the assignment, and it could be value-based. If you’re working on a due diligence project where one company is acquiring another company and there’s hundreds of millions of dollars involved, you can ask for extra pay. And the question really becomes, when you’re setting your fees, what value do you bring to that assignment? How
much value do you bring to the table? And so, all in all, it’s very, very lucrative for physicians to get into consulting.
Jim: What about startup costs? How bad are those?
Steve: There are very few, if any, startup costs. You might have a webpage, maybe a corporation, a couple of other minor things. You should be able to be up and running for a few thousand dollars.
Jim: Do you need to be board certified?
Steve: No, you don’t need to be board certified. In this kind of a situation, people are less concerned about your credentials, your academic activities, or anything like that. What they’re really concerned about is they have a problem, can you help them solve their problem? That’s what they want. If you can do that, they could care less about your board certification.
Jim: Do you even need a medical license?
Steve: It’s the same thing with the medical license. People have a problem, companies have problems, they have crises, they have emergencies. They want somebody to come in as a consultant and help them solve their problem. Whether that person’s license lapsed, whether they gave it up doesn’t really come into being.
Jim: Okay. Now, how does SEAK, your company, our company help docs who are interested in becoming consultants?
Steve: Well, our main thing is we have a conference, of course, on how to start, build and run a successful consulting practice. It’s a two-day course. We have a physician who teaches the course with myself. It’s a fantastic course. People come in, we help them discover what niches they can really specialize in, we point them in the right direction. We have a great handbook of resources. And when physicians leave that course, many of them go right into consulting on a part-time or eventually, on a full-time basis.
Jim: Thank you very much.
Excerpted from SEAK’s stream on-demand course, How to Start, Build, and Run a Successful Physician Consulting Practice