As the U.S. healthcare system continues to be transformed, the demand for jobs in healthcare policy grows as well. Out of necessity, hospitals, clinics and other providers are entering into collaborative arrangements. It is critical to the long-term life of the providers to have professional guidance in the research, design, implementation and evaluation of health policy that affects them.
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Jobs in Healthcare Settings
Clinics and hospitals are often managed by former doctors and nurses; however, a former doctor or nurse is not necessarily a good administrator. Many healthcare institutions are turning to individuals with training or experience in health policy to fill professional positions. Individuals in these positions research the implications of healthcare decisions, evaluate the available options and recommend strategies for the provider to adapt to shifts in the healthcare market. Individual healthcare practitioners and researchers often do not have time to process the information and data regarding current developments in their field. An individual with healthcare policy knowledge can perform the research and data functions while supporting the work of the practitioner or researcher. Some large hospital and healthcare systems employ healthcare policy staff who serve the system's facilities throughout the area or the country. These positions are a good fit for someone who has or wants to acquire knowledge of healthcare networks in various parts of the region or the country.
Jobs in Healthcare Consulting
Many providers and public payers do not have the necessary healthcare policy expertise in-house to support decision-making. In those cases, the providers or governments seek out the help of private-sector health care policy consulting firms, according to the Economist. Consultants have access to data and research from other areas that an individual institution or unit of government could not obtain on its own. Positions in healthcare consulting firms involve using technology and financial modeling to assess the likely impact of policy options, allowing the end user to make better-informed decisions. Although the number of large, well-known healthcare consulting firms is limited, those firms are continually hiring in locations across the country. Working for a healthcare consulting firm will likely involve travel, in some cases frequent and extended travel. But working with clients around the country helps to expand a consultant's knowledge base of innovations in other areas.
Jobs in Government
Medicare and Medicaid are the two largest payers in the U.S. healthcare system. Health programs are administered at every level of government. Public sector health programs are often plagued with negative inertia that maintains only the successes of the past. Public sector entities can no longer be followers in the area of healthcare policy. As government programs account for even larger shares of the market, many government entities are looking for individuals with a new perspective on the available options that will still maximize the value of the taxpayer dollar. Healthcare policy analysts have the ability to see through the bureaucratic haze and analyze the effectiveness of current programs and recommend options for changes that will promote individual and community health.
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An individual with healthcare policy expertise may be viewed with skepticism by hands-on care providers. Successful managers recognize the need for such individuals. By providing data and information, analyzing options and identifying the likely results, more providers, payers and consultants will be seeking to fill jobs available in health care policy.