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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

10 Key Data Points for Conclusive Network Comparisons

Posted by Laura McMullen on Fri, Jul 15, 2016

Critical Capabilities for Better Network Comparisons

ten_key_data_points.jpgProduct, sales and network teams’ needs are deeply intertwined — and success for each team relies on the ability to find the edge against competitor provider networks. When high-level comparisons suggest networks are the same or no advantage appears, that’s your cue to dig deeper.

Based on our work with more than 50 healthcare companies (and their aggregate 4,500 users), we offer 10 metrics that are critical for making more effective comparisons — which ultimately means designing better networks and selling more effectively against your competition.

The “Must Have” Capabilities for the Three Major Counting Methods

When you compare networks, how you count really matters. Different comparisons return different results, and are useful for different purposes. Selecting the right comparison method is key to your network development strategy, and to helping clients make better decisions.

In most cases, you’re counting by access points, unique providers and unique locations. Take a look at our whitepaper, How You Count Matters as Much as What You Count, for tips about choosing the right counting method for your analysis.  

10 Key Data Points You Must Have

Let’s add an overlay to the capabilities that drive the three effective counting methods — 10 metrics that must be pinpointed for your network development and sales efforts to make meaningful comparisons:

  1. Which network has more unique providers?
  2. Which network has more access points?
  3. How truly similar are the networks you compared? (In other words, how many providers are in both networks?)
  4. How many of each specialty category does each network have?
  5. Based on member demographics, which specialties are most important in this situation? Which network has more?
  6. How many providers in each network are within an X-mile radius of the locations where your group lives and works? Your radius might be smaller for urban ZIP codes and larger for rural ZIPs.
  7. How many locations/provider are in each network? When this ratio is high, directory inflation could be present.
  8. How many providers/location are in each network? When this ratio is high, large practice negotiations could disrupt the network.
  9. Has the network grown or shrunk overall during the last year or six months?
  10. What type of recruiting activity has there been recently? Adding new providers or replacing providers?

If you cannot decisively answer the 10 questions above, you may be missing key opportunities in network development or sales. You would not be alone in this regard: many competitive network data providers exist, but most provide cosmetic ease of use at the cost of more flexible and powerful reporting options.

If you find your teams hamstrung in their quest to make more effective comparisons — and ultimately drive more profitable activity at every level of your organization — click here and get in touch with us. We’ll talk about a better way to find and capitalize on critical points of difference.

Tags: compare networks, data analysis, provider networks, network comparisons, network development

Physician Assistants Are In Demand

Posted by Laura McMullen on Fri, Feb 12, 2016

The 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings of the best jobs in the US are out and nine of the top 10 are healthcare providers, up from seven of 10 last year. Physician assistants saw the biggest change, moving to fifth place from 10th place.

One of the criteria the magazine uses in ranking professions is market demand. We’re seeing evidence of that in provider directories. The physician assistant total in NetMinder increased nearly three times as fast as the number of family practice, general practice, and internal medicine doctors in four of the largest national PPO networks between September 2014 and September 2015. Retention rates were slightly lower for the same period for physician assistants (85%) vs. doctors (89%).

Here’s the Top 10 from U.S. News & World Report:

post_chart2.jpg

(Computer systems analyst ranked third – the only non-healthcare provider job. Click here for the Top 100.)

Nearly 60% of the Projected Demand is for Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners

Physician assistants are filling the primary care access gap in many parts of the country. Demand for these professionals is high and training requirements are shorter than for physicians. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill started a two-year physician assistant training program that is specifically designed for non-traditional students, particularly veterans with medical experience.  Students are typically older and have more clinical experience compared to the national average. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina donated $1.2 million to the program.

And by working with doctors and other healthcare professionals, nurse practitioners help make resources in acute and primary care settings more effective. In fact, in a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing patients and families described “processes that were effectively used by teams with a nurse practitioner; these included improved communication, involvement in decision-making, cohesion, coordination of care, solving problems, and focusing on the needs of patients and their families.”

Demand For Other Healthcare Providers Small But Significant

While the absolute number of orthodontists and obstetricians needed is low, they represent a significant percentage of the workforce and the training programs are long and rigorous. 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 nine 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: network development, best jobs, healthcare providers

Best jobs in the US are health care providers

Posted by Laura McMullen on Tue, Feb 10, 2015

US News and World Report released its 2015 list of the 100 best jobs in the US and just like in 2013, dentists have come out on top. It’s not surprising since there continues to be strong demand for dentists, salaries are high, and current dentists report high job satisfaction. What’s new this year is that other health care providers have joined dentists at the top of the list.

All seven health care jobs have similar rankings and unemployment rates with differences in levels of demand and salary possibilities. Click here to learn more about the methodology US News used.

USNews_Graphic-1

(In case you are curious, the other three jobs in the top 10 are software developer, computer systems analyst, and information security analyst. See the rest of the top 100 here.)

The high demand numbers and low unemployment rates for these jobs are not news to anyone who has been paying attention to the healthcare industry recently. In fact, the Health Resources and Services Administration within the US Department of Health and Human Services predicts a shortage of 20,400 primary care physicians by 2020, if the system for delivering primary care stays the way it is, in their 2013 report Projecting Supply and Demand for Primary Care Practitioners through 2020. According to their estimates, even with nurse practitioners and physician assistants integrated into the delivery system, the national shortages will become less acute although supply and demand will vary regionally.

Publicity like the US News list and other media coverage of the employment outlook in healthcare highlights the good news and bad news for insurers, employers, and consumers:

  • As more people enter these fields, everyone will benefit from more choice in providers in the long run.
  • According to the American Dental Association 2010 Survey of Dental Practice, solo practitioners make up about 59% of all dental practices. While this number has declined from a high of 67% in 1991 according to a study in the Journal of Dental Education in August 2012, dentists and dental hygienists are still likely to start or join private practices which will increase the number of access points in dental networks
  • Physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physical therapists tend to join large practices or work in hospitals or other facilities because medical practices are more likely to be set up as corporations for tax and liability protection. Therefore, fewer access points will be added to medical networks but there will be more providers at many locations.
  • Start-up costs are high and training timelines are long so we will likely experience shortages on the way to more choice. Nurse practitioner training tuition costs range from $22,500 to $45,000 depending on the program and takes between 12 and 18 months. Physician assistant training is approximately twice the cost and twice the time. The cost of nurse practitioner and physician assistant training is comparable but the time commitment is just a fraction compared to the cost and timing of physician training: $35,000 to $55,000 depending on the school and four years plus three to seven more for residency at a minimum. Other considerations are the number of seats in nursing and medical training programs and the number of qualified applicants.

In general, supply and demand for healthcare providers are not in sync. It’s clear the US population will continue to age and grow. How are you addressing these needs in your network development plans?

Tags: health insurance, network management, dentists, health care providers, network development

 

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