INSIGHTS

The Outlook for Healthcare Jobs in 2019 and Beyond Remains Strong

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17 percent increase in the employment of health service positions through 2024. Read this article and learn how telemedicine, wearable devices value-based care, new players such as Amazon Prime Health and other factors will impact the healthcare jobs market in coming years.

The healthcare industry has continuously worked to improve healthcare outcomes while decreasing costs for many years now. More recently healthcare providers are shifting away from the pay-for-procedure business model to a pay-for-performance model, also known as “value-based care.” This is a form of reimbursement that ties payments for care delivery to the quality of care provided, rewarding providers for meeting certain performance measures.

This paradigm of value-based care focuses on outcomes over interventions, causing an increased demand for healthcare administrators, financial managers and other healthcare positions to meet the new standards of patient care and the challenges in balancing resources.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17 percent increase in the employment of health service positions through 2024. This is a faster growth rate than that predicted for the average of any other occupation over the same period. Healthcare has always been recession-proof and has remained strong through our economic ups and downs in recent years.

So why are healthcare jobs including those in hospital finance and administration outpacing growth in other industries? Here are some trends that are currently impacting the healthcare job market and is expected to continue to have significant impact over the next decade.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine, also referred to as telehealth, is the delivery of remote clinical services using technology. Such technologies may include email, video, smart devices, wireless tools and other telecommunication technology to address patient needs. Healthcare providers striving to strengthen its value-based care services combined with patients’ desire for more convenience in obtaining care is driving this trend.

In conducting research for this article, we interviewed a hospital CFO of a large Midwest regional medical center who likened telehealth to the “Uberization of healthcare delivery”. He went on to say that telehealth will enable his medical center to better serve its patients in underserved rural areas throughout their service area.

Telemedicine has a few advantages for patients, such as convenience and enabling self-service. Clinicians also benefit by making patient interactions more efficient and focused. Telemedicine also enhances communication between providers, improving the level of care that patients receive.

For patients with immune or mobility issues, telemedicine is a convenient and safe way to receive healthcare services. Whether in a home or nursing facility environment, physicians can see more patients without disruption.

Despite growing interest in telemedicine there will be several challenges. Clinicians may be slow to adapt to the new model, and several regulatory issues will need to be addressed. This shift in care will result in new payment methodologies and models, creating challenges for providers to comply with different partner organizations and disparate technology platforms. Handling these complex payment models requires expertise in healthcare revenue cycle and finance, creating more positions to address the demand.

Wearable Medical Devices

The traditional patient-doctor model is undergoing significant changes already, but the advent of medical wearables is ushering in a new wave of digital medicine. These devices use sensors to automate many processes, obtain an accurate diagnosis and improve treatment to give patients control over their own care.

Wearable medical devices work together with many telemedical technologies to monitor patient care and provide remote care and treatment. One of the main benefits of these two technologies is that vital patient information can be obtained at any time, outside of a clinical setting, to save time and reach a diagnosis faster. This also relieves physicians of some of their more tedious tasks, since these devices handle much of the administrative work directly.

Wearable medical devices come with unique challenges, such as how to implement these new technologies and the growing amount of information in clinical practice. Integrating data collected from these devices into the clinical workflows of the various healthcare providers also poses challenges. Healthcare professionals will need to adapt to these challenges to incorporate these devices into their processes. Instead of focusing on administrative tasks, preventive measures to secure the virtual information on the device and streamline healthcare processes will be the main goals.

Between the growth of wearable medical devices and the abundance of leading companies in the sector, such as Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin, the medical device and diagnostic industry will create more jobs for skilled healthcare professionals.

The Trend to Value-Based Healthcare Leads to High-Profile Mergers and Acquisitions

The transition from volume to value, often referred to as value-based healthcare in the industry, as well as the move to population health management, require significant capital investments and complex management skills. Value-based care requires healthcare providers to carefully and precisely control the costs and outcomes for the entire spectrum of care, as well as to understand the patient’s healthcare journey on a deeper level.

Value-based care and reimbursement puts pressure on providers, leading more healthcare organizations to strive for efficiency, sustainability and cost control. One of the main strategies to accomplish these goals is by forming business alliances to gain access to the capabilities necessary to their success.

CVS Health Corp, the largest retail pharmacy chain in the U.S., and Aetna, the third-largest health insurance provider received approval for a merger that is poised to change the face of healthcare in the country. Both parties agreed to this merger in order to deliver improved outcomes at a lower cost than competing providers.

With this merger, Aetna customers may be referred to CVS as a total health and wellness center. The focus is on preventing health problems in the first place, rather than treating them as they arise. Not only should this merger result in lower prices for healthcare services, but in terms of convenience for patients it will be as easy as going to your local pharmacy to receive medical care.

The CVS/Aetna merger is only one example of this monumental market shift. Healthcare mergers and acquisitions are increasing rapidly, with mega-mergers fueling most of the growth. Healthcare organizations intend for these high-value mergers and acquisitions to give their systems scale to lower costs, offer better care services and create a larger footprint in the local market.

With this shift in focus, one finds many expanded and emerging areas of demand and job growth, rather than a lack of jobs from consolidation. Opportunities are on the rise in managing the health of entire populations, consumer-oriented options in retail, urgent care settings, and in allied health, as well as in handling the revenue-cycle disruption caused by mega-mergers.

Aging Population

The greatest driver of demand for healthcare services and employees is the aging of the U.S. population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau projections, the estimated number of people over age 65 will grow to 84 million in 2050, almost double the population of this age group in 2012.

Because older people need a greater frequency and quantity of care, as well as a greater complexity of care, more healthcare employees are needed to address this growing demand. This group is Medicare eligible as well, meaning that the healthcare services are covered, so there’s a greater chance of healthcare utilization.

The combination of an aging population and chronic health conditions also means more patients will seek out skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities as well, increasing the demand for healthcare employees in these facilities.

Retirement Wave

The demand for healthcare employees will increase with the wave of retirements among older healthcare professionals. This has already begun in some healthcare professions, but more than one-third of today’s active healthcare employees will turn 65 within the next decade, exacerbating the shortage of employment in the industry.

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the expected shortage is over 120,000 physicians through 2030. Projected shortages among physical therapy employees and nursing employees are also anticipated.

This situation not only increases the shortage of practitioners overall, but it also leaves experienced and specialty healthcare positions vacant and difficult to fill. Because of this, there’s a growing demand for healthcare employees.

Amazon Prime Health

Amazon has been touching upon different aspects of the healthcare industry in recent months, but its alliance with J.P. Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway showed that their ambitions go far beyond selling healthcare products. Amazon has already disrupted industry after industry as it expands its business model, and if they have their way, healthcare will be no different.

Possible points of entry for Amazon Prime Health include:

  • Selling medical equipment and supplies by relying on the logistics and distribution skills it already possesses. Amazon also has licensing to distribute medical supplies.
  • Offering mail order and retail pharmacy services. Amazon is approved as a wholesale distributor from 12 state pharmaceutical boards, and it could use data and predictive analytics to build digital health tools.
  • Partnering with large pharmacy benefit managers to take advantage of the purchasing power of patients with a health plan.
  • Offering telemedicine or in-home healthcare via Echo or Alexa, as well as virtual house calls or other voice-activated medical services.
  • Offering AI-powered diagnostics and continuing care that’s fully automated and in-home. Amazon already utilizes deep machine-learning abilities that drive most of its business model, so turning this service over to diagnostics and home health care is a logical progression.

Amazon already has many of the core competencies that are needed to stay competitive in the healthcare environment, such as technology and data analytics. It’s already testing Prime Now pharmaceutical deliveries, virtual doctor visits and electronic health records (EHRs), and recruitment for healthcare positions has begun.

Though this development is in the early stages, it’s wise to consider Amazon’s potential to disrupt the industry significantly. Its agile technology infrastructure and effective global distribution network prove that Amazon can be a real player in the healthcare industry.

As Amazon continues to ramp up and expand in the healthcare industry, there will be a significant demand for qualified healthcare employees to help the company grow its offerings.

Looking Ahead

Significant employment demand is a positive trend for any industry with prospective employees ready to meet that demand. In the healthcare industry, however, the decreasing supply of qualified employees is an obstacle to meeting the new standards of patient care, especially with the growing gap of unfilled jobs. This challenge is worsened by shifting reimbursement regulations, increased competition, technological advancements and disparate public policies. These factors increase demand for professionals skilled in healthcare finance, revenue cycle and management.

Though there may be some fluctuations in specific positions, the healthcare industry will continue to change and grow in coming years. Certain healthcare positions are likely to experience a significant demand or shortage as time goes on, but the healthcare industry overall is expected to see an increased overall demand for talent. Proactive healthcare employers have already stepped up their recruitment efforts to address these specific needs and to adapt to these growing trends.