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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.


(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

Five Best Practices to Use Network Data to Grow Your Business

Posted by Darrin Hall on Thu, Jun 26, 2014

There are many factors employers consider when selecting an insurance carrier: price, benefits, service reputation and, to an increasing level of scrutiny, provider network. Positioning your provider network as the best fit for a client or prospect can make all the difference in winning the business.

Provider networks have to satisfy customers and members on multiple levels: 

  • Wide range of choices: multiple general and specialty providers are included in the network
  • Convenient to use: providers are located near home or work
  • Include popular providers and facilities: providers are the ones that members and their families want to use
  • Cost-effective: in-network providers offer meaningful discounts that reduce out-of-pocket expenses and claim costs

Because the provider network is hard to measure and so important to winning and retaining business, the industry has developed four types of network analysis:network analysis pyramid

  • Network Counting – measure the quantity of providers in each network
  • Accessibility Analysis – correlate network provider locations to employee home and work locations
  • Disruption Reporting – match historical provider utilization and claims experience for a group to the providers in a different network
  • Repricing – compare cost of claims for all providers (in- and out-of-network) if a different network were in place to the cost experienced in the current network

Download our whitepaper, The Network Analysis Pyramid, to learn more about each method.

Insurance companies and network leasing partners are both the source of the data in these reports and the consumers of the analyses during their sales processes. This dual role provides incentive to invest the resources needed to prepare and maintain network data so that they are in the best position to win new business.

So, what can you do to show your network in the strongest position?

Here are five best practices for managing your network data that will give you the best results in your network comparisons.

  1. Review your directory data regularly. Be sure that provider names, addresses, and phone numbers are up to date. Transparency in your reporting will be to your advantage in the long run.
  2. Check for duplicate records that can be consolidated, especially if you are stacking networks, since it can be hard to identify providers from the vendor network that are already in the carrier network.
  3. Adopt data standardization practices, particularly for numeric fields. For example, make sure leading zeroes on ZIP codes have not been dropped and replaced by the first digit of the ZIP+4. This is common in ZIP codes in New England, New Jersey, and US Caribbean territories.
  4. Consider including competitor network data in your analyses so that you understand your competitive position, predict results, and prepare for the future.
  5. For Disruption Reporting and Repricing, make sure that provider name data is properly parsed and address data is standardized. Use the same processes for claim and provider data files to give best chance of identifying valid matches.

Earning new business and retaining current customers are the lifeblood of every company. Improving your position by cleaning and maintaining your network data can make it easier to do both.

What process do you use today to manage your network data?


Tags: network providers, health insurance, network comparison tool, disruption reporting, network data, network management, network leasing companies, provider networks, insurance companies

Measuring Productivity and Activity in Provider Network Recruiting

Posted by Laura McMullen on Thu, May 29, 2014

As you can imagine, we’re always thinking about building, maintaining, and selling provider networks. The most frequently asked question we get is how can I show my network in the best possible light; even if it isn’t the largest in a particular geographic area? One way is to look at recent growth (or contraction) trends.

There are several metrics that illustrate growth or contraction:

  • Adds: number of providers that were new to a network since the last update
  • Drops: number of providers that left a network since the last update
  • Net Change: difference between Adds and Drops
  • Total Change: total of Adds and Drops

Each metric has value, depending on the analysis you are doing. For example, simple counts of Adds and Drops measure the activity in a network while Net Change shows growth over time.

The Network Change reports in NetMinder analyze a network at two points in time. They bring all four metrics into one convenient report for selected specialties and geographic areas. Like other NetMinder reports, the summary report shows counts and the detail report gives lists of providers with their contact information. Watch a Quick Take video to see how the reports work.

Measuring Productivity Instead of Activity

network changeWe’ve all heard the expression “change for change’s sake” and know that’s not a good thing. In network management, the primary purpose of change is growth, so any change that doesn’t result in growth is potentially unproductive. That’s why we added the Network Productivity Index to the Network Change reports. This index compares net change to total change to measure how much activity is productive. The index values range between zero and 1; where 1 means that 100% of activities during the comparison period resulted in growth. For example, even though two networks in the same county are roughly the same size, Network A had fewer drops and less change resulting in an NPI of .42, significantly higher than Network B’s .04.

Measuring productivity is important because networks with high turnover may have higher rates. It costs more to recruit a new provider than to keep an existing one. Higher costs ultimately lead to higher rates so the more productive a network’s recruiters are, the more competitive the rates can be. And the ability to quickly replace providers who leave a network satisfies customers and members leading to high retention rates on the sales side, as well.

For more ideas about using network change metrics, download our whitepaper How Productive is Your Provider Network.

Which metric do you think is the most important metric in managing productivity for the networks you manage and sell?

Tags: network metrics, network rank, network providers, network comparison tool, network change, network management, network productivity, provider networks





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