Healthcare Analytics Careers: New Roles for the Brave, New World of Value-based Care

healthcare careersJob titles tend to be leading indicators of the direction an industry is moving. This holds true for healthcare. Tracking the transformation taking place in healthcare via job titles is made easier as change has not been as rapid as in other industries.

Value as the Health Catalyst for New Titles

It should come as no surprise that the new healthcare economic model—from fee-for-service (FFS) to value-based—is driving a change in roles and responsibilities for those seeking a career in healthcare analytics. Under FFS, providers were paid based on volume rather than quality, and titles and positions were created to facilitate that model. Job titles and roles focused on quality are becoming more prevalent reflecting the shift to value-based care.

Spurred by accelerated timelines from CMS and commercial payers, healthcare organization leaders are recognizing the need for new roles and skill sets to support the transition. In fact, a recent survey administered by AMN Healthcare suggests that 86 percent of healthcare organizations are aware of the need for new types of healthcare professionals. The same study, however, reveals that a much smaller percentage is actively recruiting executive and frontline employees with experience in value-based care.

Our experience in helping hundreds of hospitals improve quality and reduce cost, has made one thing very clear: In order to execute on the vision of value-based care transformation, healthcare organizations would be best served by building teams that have the skills to bring together analytics, best-practice clinical content, and process improvement and turn them in to meaningful, actionable change.

Emerging Frontline Titles

Today there is an increased focus on the processes and the technology of quality. Three emerging titles on the frontlines of quality improvement include:

Data Architects and Data Analysts

Many organizations already have data architects and even more have data analysts. However, in the push for value, these roles have taken on a new importance. Architects and analysts use powerful new analytics technologies to provide insights to decision-makers. The most effective organizations embed analysts in multidisciplinary clinical improvement teams empowering frontline staff and analysts to collaborate on using data to drive value.

Implementation Specialists

An implementation specialist, with expertise in analytics and healthcare, assists healthcare organizations in using data to improve processes. For example, a nurse with deep clinical experience, who has worked extensively with data, can be a translator between technologists and clinicians as improvement initiatives are developed and implemented.

Care Coordinator

Care coordinators are in great demand in healthcare. According to the AMN Healthcare survey, 27 percent of organizations are currently recruiting for this position and 14 percent are planning to do so. Incentivized by several government programs, investing in care coordinators may be a good idea for organizations looking to improve care and implement best practices based on their data and analytics.

Emerging Executive Titles

The AMN Healthcare survey revealed that although 40 percent of healthcare organizations are actively recruiting staff roles like care coordinators and ICD-10 coders, fewer are recruiting for new management positions. For example, the Chief Experience Officer (discussed below) is an emerging leadership role, with only 16 percent of respondents currently recruiting or planning to recruit for this role. While the healthcare industry appears to have a good understanding of what skill sets and roles are needed on the frontlines, leadership roles will be more challenging.

Chief Experience Officer

Today, a consumer’s choice of where they receive healthcare is largely dictated by payers and referring physicians. As the industry becomes increasingly consumer-driven, healthcare organizations must prepare for consumers to make care decisions based on quality and cost. In the near term, patient experience will be an important consideration as healthcare systems work to improve patient satisfaction metrics as part of CMS and other payer incentive programs. The Chief Experience Officer becomes more critical after organizations have successful quality and cost initiatives in place and can turn the focus to improving the patient experience.

Chief Population Health Officer

The growing popularity of this role is a leading indicator of the emphasis the industry is placing on population health. This executive leads the charge in the design and implementation of an organization’s population health strategy. Using analytics extensively, Chief Population Health Officer evaluate trends within the organization and develop processes for using data effectively to manage patient populations.

This role is important in today’s evolving industry, but it may be a transitory role. In the future, managing populations of patients will become part of the fabric of healthcare organizations’ culture and a designated leader to champion the cause will no longer be necessary.

Titles Reflect the Use of Data to Drive Better Care

Below is a list several other emerging titles that could play important roles in the future of healthcare. Roles of particular importance will be focused on applying a system-of-production methodology to healthcare. Many of these titles reflect the technological experience that will be required to harness the information and insights to drive value-based transformation.

These roles include:

  • VP Cost Containment
  • Chief Clinical Transformation Officer
  • Head of Technology Innovation
  • VP Clinical Informatics
  • VP Medical Management

Healthcare Analytics Careers in the Future

Our industry is in unprecedented time of flux and no one knows exactly what things will look like in the future. One thing is certain, healthcare titles will continue to be morph and change over the next five-10 years. It may be several years before healthcare organizations determine which titles, roles, and skill sets that can fall to the wayside and those that are essential to success.

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