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The NetMinder Blog

Healthcare Jobs Continue To Be The Best Jobs

Posted by Laura McMullen on Thu, Apr 13, 2017

The 2017 U.S. News & World Report rankings of the best jobs in the US are out and 8 of the top 10 are healthcare providers. Dentists are back on top after slipping to second after orthodontists in 2016; anesthesiologists and psychiatrists fell out of the top 10. Nurse practitioners moved up the most spots (from sixth to second) and orthodontists moved down the most (from first to fifth).  

Here’s the Top 10:  

best jobs_table.jpg(Statistician was fourth and computer systems analyst ranked eighth to round out the Top 10. Click here for the whole list.)

Healthcare jobs have dominated the top 10 for the last few years with solid demand, high job satisfaction, and strong salaries. Like last year, dentists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants make up the clear majority of the projected demand. All three are generalists who offer treatment to people of a variety of ages on a routine basis. The rest of the providers in the list are specialists who provide care for people with specific needs.  

NetMinder Shows More Specialists Are Joining Networks

Generalists are in higher demand with more open positions overall. Interestingly, NetMinder shows that generalists are being added to provider networks more slowly than specialists.  

  • The number of general dentists who participate in national provider networks grew 11% between March 2016 and March 2017 while dental specialists grew 24% in the same period. 
  • The number of primary care physicians in broad, national networks grew 11% during the same period while specialists grew 15%.  

Two possible reasons for this are (1) specialty care costs more so carriers are motivated to add specialists to their networks and (2) there are more specialists than generalists. Medical networks are more mature than dental networks, which explains the slower growth rate of medical specialists in networks. 

The overall demand reflects the increased need for healthcare services in the US. Factors contributing to this need are: 

  • The aging of the US population. By the year 2040, about 22% of the population will be over age 65, per the US Administration on Aging. And we’re living longer: the Census Bureau reports that the average time to live for those turning 85 increased from 5.5 years in 1972 to 6.5 years in 2010. 
  • The shortage of doctors and nurses. Rigorous, lengthy, and expensive training requirements and the aging of the workforce plus unsatisfactory working conditions make these professions less attractive to young people. Some shortages result from faulty geographic and specialty distribution of healthcare professionals.  

While the greater demand for generalists is in line with the triple aim of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement: improve the patient experience (including quality and satisfaction), improve the health of populations, and reduce the per capita cost of health care, the shortage of specialists is also being felt. 

Demand For Specialized Healthcare Providers Small But Significant 

As we’ve seen in other years, the absolute number of professionals needed in these specialty fields is low, i.e. orthodontists, oral surgeons, and nurse anesthetists. Yet, the demand represents a significant percentage of the workforce and the training programs are long and rigorous requiring long lead times to fill openings. Many of these professionals serve limited populations during occasional periods with time-consuming or high-risk services which also suppresses demand resulting in a few openings with high rewards.  

All eight have similar satisfaction rankings and unemployment rates with the major differences in demand and salary possibilities. As in past years, the rankings take compensation, flexibility, opportunities for advancement, market demand, amount of stress, and skills or training required into consideration. See the methodology here

How are you addressing these supply and demand trends in your network development plans? 

Tags: Medical, dentists, network development, best jobs, healthcare providers, medical specialties, healthcare jobs

Which Specialties Are Most Important to Your Network?

Posted by Laura McMullen on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

The Pareto Principle says that, for many events, 80% of the effects can be attributed to 20% of the causes. This is true about the cost of healthcare both from the demand side where most of the need for services is in the last years of life and from the sickest part of the population and from the supply side where most of the physician expense is concentrated among several specialties. (Inpatient treatment and specialty drugs are large components of medical spend too but since NetMinder is all about networks, we’re going to concentrate our analysis on physician specialties.)

We analyzed five national commercial medical networks using NetMinder. The 10 specialties that make up the bulk of these networks are counseling, family practice, general practice, internal medicine, nurse, ob-gyn, optometry, physician assistant, pediatrics, and social work. They represent 55-67% of each network. It’s no surprise that primary care physicians make up the bulk of these networks – everyone needs one, even when there’s no gatekeeper, because consumers generally don’t know exactly what’s wrong when they go to the doctor. Another reason for this might be that competition for patients in some markets is fierce leading some types of providers such as optometrists, counselors, and social workers to look for ways to market their practices.

However, these specialties are not among the top-earning specialties.

In 2014, the New York Times reported the top-earning medical specialties are orthopedics, cardiology, anesthesiology, radiology, dermatology, plastic surgery, urology, gastroenterology and ophthalmology. The article goes on to say “Physicians in those fields typically earn more than $350,000 annually, according to American Medical Group Association, a trade organization. In many specialties, income has risen more than 10 percent since 2011, according to Medscape, a Web company that follows the industry.” The top-earner specialties make up 12-21% of the commercial medical networks we analyzed.

Two of them – internal medicine and family practice – are in the top 5 for Medicare cost.

In 2012, Bloomberg analyzed Medicare payments to individual providers by specialty. This list represents 60% of expenditures, and 34-62% of the commercial medical networks we analyzed.

specialty chart.jpgSource: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Bloomberg

Without network constraints and as the largest insurer, it stands to reason that the specialty types Medicare pays the most will be similar to the specialty types that earn the most. Five specialties – orthopedics, cardiology, radiology, dermatology, and ophthalmology – are in both lists. These five specialties represent 10-15% of the commercial medical networks we analyzed.

Take a look at our whitepaper, All Provider Networks are not Created Equal, for more about how to take the composition of a network into account when you are comparing networks.

Networks are built to meet the needs of the members who use them so we’d expect variation in the types of specialties that make up the bulk of each one. Do you have enough of the right type of providers in your network to support the demand? Which specialties are over-represented? Which are under-represented?

Tags: health insurance, provider networks, medical networks, medical specialties

 

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