Growing opportunities in “soft” healthcare services
For the past decade, many U.S. healthcare organizations have focused on information technology (IT) initiatives to accelerate clinical and business processes, reduce costs and develop new sources of revenue. As a result, professionals who have “hard” skills related to health IT are in high demand – a trend that will undoubtedly continue in the coming decade.
But there are also many opportunities in the “softer” side of health care for organizations, as well as for individuals who prefer focusing on people rather than technology.
For instance, wellness promotion and disease prevention services are now priorities in the nation’s changing healthcare policy landscape. Responding to this trend, innovative healthcare organizations are hiring more patient educators, psychologists, social workers, and case managers. They are also partnering with a wide range of community organizations from public health departments and clinics to business, education and faith-based organizations seeking to improve the delivery of care.
Professionals with strong communication skills, as well as an understanding of medical and health conditions, can help hospitals, physician groups, medical laboratories and ancillary service providers take advantage of these growth opportunities in their communities.
They can also provide the “patient-focused” component of telehealth initiatives that can expand a provider’s role and position in a regional market.
In addition, professionals with active listening skills who care about wellness and health are also the key to success in disease management strategies that can lower costs and improve patient satisfaction. After all, changing unhealthy behaviors is a long-term process that requires an understanding of the individual patient’s current lifestyle, support network and personal goals.
While empathy and compassion are important for any healthcare professional, the ability to explain health concepts, counsel family members and provide motivational “coaching” services are increasingly important skills to cultivate.
Recognizing this trend, hospitals, clinics and health systems are Investing more resources in their patient education and engagement programs, which can often by incorporated into community outreach initiatives. Building a reputation for compassionate, knowledgeable care is an excellent approach to generating referrals, boosting online ratings and strengthening an organization’s financial position in today’s competitive marketplace.