What Can Current Hot Jobs in Healthcare Tell Us About the Industry’s Future?

What Can Current Hot Jobs in Healthcare Tell Us About the Industry’s Future?


By Dr. James Gillespie & Dr. Lumbé Davis


The healthcare sector is expected to add 5,000,000 jobs by 2020. Thus, for better or worse from a societal perspective, healthcare continues to be growing dimension of the US economy. Can we learn anything about the future of healthcare by looking at how these 5M new jobs are distributed? In particular, what are the “hot” jobs, and what do these jobs say about the future of healthcare?


Analysts and academics can make predictions all day long, but there is nothing quite so “real” as the decisions companies must make regarding whether to add headcount. In this turbulent economic environment, that is not a decision undertaken lightly. Thus, when those hires are made, they are generally based on a reasonably detailed projection of expected industry trends. Current hires tend to be a great diagnostic for the future of healthcare.


Last week, AMN Healthcare’s Center for Professional Advancement released a report entitled "Emerging Roles in Healthcare 2014” (http://www.amnhealthcare.com/industry-research/). The report highlighted five new and emerging roles:



  • Care coordinator, a registered nurse of advanced practice who uses evidence-based strategies to manage patient transitions along the care continuum


  • Navigator, a licensed clinical professional facilitating patient and family health and treatment in collaboration with a healthcare facility and payers


  • Clinical documentation specialist, an analyst using patient records, diagnostic results, insurance claims, and other documents to maximize reimbursement for services provided


  • Chief population health officer, a hospital leader who develops and implements the organization's population health strategy


  • Chief data officer and chief analytics officer to serve as C-suite champions


This suggests four key trends.


First, as represented by the care coordinator and navigator role, having a holistic and coordinated view of individual patient care will become increasingly important, especially in light of the shift to patient-centered medical homes and a team-based approach to healthcare delivery. That kind
of care coordination was once reserved for the wealthy few who could afford a personal health
concierge. The new face of healthcare is likely to see this customized personal health management, led by a professional, proliferate to all income levels as payers and providers work to lower cost by (i) being preventative and (ii) spending wisely resources once health problems do arise.


Second, reimbursement maximization will likely take center stage in the financial and
operational life of healthcare providers. Of course, reimbursement has always been an important
consideration. However, in this era of margins that are thinner and thinner, as well as the shift from
volume to value, optimizing reimbursement processes and outcomes could make the difference
between survival or failure for an institution.


Third, population health, which used to be considered something of the backwater of
healthcare, is going to play an increasingly important role. We are all population health professionals now –or at least it will feel like that sometimes. Why do we say this? Because partnerships between the healthcare sector and what has been traditionally known as public health will be necessary due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (e.g., cancer programs are now working with federally qualified health centers and local health systems to implement client reminders into the EHRs to improve cancer screening rates). Hence, public health will be increasingly infused into healthcare. And in fact, we are moving from a sickcare system to healthcare system and ultimately to a health system.


Fourth, data, data, data. Data will be key going forward as the fuel to drive descriptive and
predictive analytics. In addition, data helps with establishing a benchmarking and baseline upon which improvements in selected outcomes can be more easily measured.


Louise Underdahl's picture Louise Underdahl | December 3, 2014 9:39 pm MST

Hi James and Lumbé,

Data will be key going forward as the fuel to drive descriptive and predictive analytics. In addition, data helps with establishing a benchmarking and baseline upon which improvements in selected outcomes can be more easily measured.

Thank you for sharing these insights on emerging roles in healthcare. As you have correctly predicted, data is the foundation upon which leadership formulates survival strategies.  For example, UCLA Health System is currently recruiting Clarity Reports Developers to create reports for Hospital Billing service stakeholders. Responsibilities include collecting data requirements, writing, clarifying, and interpreting report specifications.  Required skills include familiarity with use of Business Objects Crystal Reports to translate specifications into reports.

As another example, Sircar's elucidation of the Stages of Analytics Maturity during the September 2014 Academic Forum conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin suggests two underlying themes in the evolution of analytics:

  • Harnessing large quantities of unstructured/semi-structured data in real-time
  • Processing of these data to answer real-time queries, discern trends/patterns, and make predictions

Since data strategy, data governance, and data integration are requisite to developing scalable technologies and new analytical techniques, Sircar predicts that a Chief Data Officer should collaborate with leadership to ensure alignment with the organization's business needs.

How might the School of Advanced Studies develop curriculum to help graduates meet these emerging needs?

jjgillespie's picture | January 8, 2015 8:58 am MST

Dr. Underdahl,

Thank you for this very thoughtful commentary.  Great to hear the work taking place in data analytics at UCLA Health System.  The Sircar elucidation is also quite interesting.

In terms of  your excellent question at the end, I'm not sure what SAS is currently doing in the area of data analytics, but I do believe this should be an area we heavily invest in.  So much of the future of healthcare will be wrapped around data and analytics.



Cheryl Anderson's picture Cheryl Anderson | January 9, 2015 3:18 pm MST

Hello  Dr Underdahl and Dr Gillespie,

As noted, the field of health care is becoming more data driven. This also means that there is more data being collected. Likely, a great deal of the data is not fully used or analyzed by many organizations. Perhaps we should be encouraging our  doctoral health care researchers to consider using secondary data sets readily available in their organizations and government sources for their own dissertation research?

I look forward to your input.

Kind regards,


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