The healthcare industry is growing rapidly in the aftermath of the global pandemic. Consequently, health tech is also booming. So far, the industry has only taken baby steps in the realm of digital health. Comparatively, retail, hospitality, travel, banking, and financial services are far ahead in the game.
Come the last 12-18 months, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of activity in emerging areas of focus, such as virtual healthcare and behavioral health services. Pegged as one of the fastest growing industries across the world, the digital healthcare market in India is estimated to reach Rs. 485.43 billion by 2024.
The potential is unfathomable. It is no wonder that the tech giants of the world are trying to get into this fieldwith many already making inroads in the space of wearable devices. That however is only the tip of the iceberg because wellness-focused mobile technology advancements have little to do with how the health care system truly operates.
The problem of access and equity in healthcare is much larger. It is an extremely fragmented business, riddled with several data privacy and regulatory guidelines, which is an impediment to large scale technology disruption. Given all these complexities and more, healthcare technology is and will be more evolutionary than revolutionary.
There’s another aspect to it – that of customer centricity. Today’s woke consumer/patient is at the center of healthcare. Here, technology meets healthcare to provide services to patients where they need them, how they need them and when they need them. So, fast tracking digital in healthcare may be difficult but it is inevitable!
Keeping this lay of land in sight, organizations that can achieve a strong technology culture along with data and healthcare expertise and talent, will emerge as leaders in health tech.
All of this translates to employment opportunities in health tech, where there is demand fora combination of domain skills, technology, and an orientation and passion towards creating a healthier world.
Here are the top six health tech job roles that are likely to be in high demand in 2021:
- Big Data (including artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML)/natural language processing (NLP), data sciences): this is “the sunshine domain”, especially from a health tech lens, where there is a widespread requirement for data scientists, data engineers, data analysts, statisticians and such.
Job roles that deal with sourcing, cleaning, and processing data to extract meaning and insights, and roles that employ logic and statistical models to use structured and unstructured data to further healthcare services, will see a strong uptake.
- Engineering leaders (with data science experience): as organizations go about building product strategy, there will be a need for leaders who have a hands-on grip on product development, engineering, UI/UX and data analytics.
This is where product managers and engineering leaders, with a sound understanding of data science, and abilities in mapping stakeholder requirements amidst evolving regulatory and compliance mandates, can bring their skills to the table.
Hence, engineering leaders will rule the roost. They are going to play a very important role in building a culture of development and technology in an organization and lead the shift towards product and platform thinking.
- Mobile technology: Today, mobile technology pervades how we work and live our lives and a smart phone is the first touch point for any service, linking customers to information and resources.
Admittedly, the health care industry has been laggard in using mobile technology but there are extensive efforts to catch up and mobile is becoming a concrete way to bring medical information to the public.
Therefore, talent that answers to the requirement of working on mobile tech for health care will potentially be in high demand. Health tech will see more and more mobile tech roles as the sector prepares itself to connect with the consumer/patient – be it through websites or digital platforms.
- Designers of user experience and interface (UX and UI): in healthcare, providing a great virtual experience, is the next big thing. Hence, there is a strong need to develop customer/patient interfaces to deliver seamless, engaging, and satisfactory interactions.
Moreover, the aspects of compliance, checklists, task management, and patient data management require a design that is clean, intuitive, and easy to navigate. This is a critical job role that needs to be able to balance the needs of the patient, the medical practitioner, as well as the healthcare institution.
- Medical coding and health informatics and economics:professionals working in health informatics will be the front-runners for their experience and expertise in handling health care data. This includes medical records or any health information that is required to be used as is or in coded and categorized formats for reimbursement, registration, or even patient records maintenance.
Hence, there is a massive demand for medical coding, a niche area of expertise in health tech. It involves the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal standard medical codes.
- Cybersecurity: With healthcare organizations increasingly looking towards digital solutions to meet the rising consumer expectations of getting better access and quality of care at lower costs, the need for cybersecurity professionals within the industry has increased manifold. As per a recent report by Data Security Council of India (DSCI), Indian cybersecurity services industry is expected to grow from $4.3 billion in fiscal 2019-20 to $7.6 billion in 2022. This is where roles such as network security engineers, information risk auditors, security analysts, intrusion detection specialists, cryptologists, and vulnerability assessors are expected to be in great demand.
Looking for a good fit
Therefore, a combination of skills is going to be very important.
Take for example, paramedics combined with healthcare informatics, analytics, or medical coding. Another combination could be that of pharmaceutics or pharmaco kinetics with UI/UX, data analytics or product or engineering. Such unique skill combinations are going to be extremely critical for the healthcare technology sector in the years to come.
Also, while the domain agnostic approach to hiring will continue, there will be a shift in terms of consideration of factors such as the target market that prospective candidates have worked with or whether they have worked in a customer centric environment. Such factors help gauge how soon candidates can hit the ground running or how steep their learning curve will be. This will be applicable specifically for the early careers segment.
The upskilling conundrum
Upskilling is a huge concern. This is especially true for health tech companies, considering the need for rich domain understanding. Talent is scarce and much sought-after. The challenge will be for health tech companies to retain their talent, upskill them and use them for multiple other avenues.
Organizations are increasingly developing upskilling strategies that involve conducting educational series, encouraging internal talent mobility from one domain to another to facilitate multidisciplinary learning, and so on.
To create a dynamic talent pool at the middle and top tiers of the organization, the focus of training and development is shifting towards inculcating technology skills in core business talent, and business-related decision-making and problem-solving skills in technology talent.
Several third-party platforms have also emerged that offer courses focused on a mix of data science and domains. These specialized courses are taught by industry leaders to supplement conventional courses and training. This trend is likely to continue in 2021-22.
As the industry evolves
As employers, health tech organizations look for talent that is mission-driven to make the health system work better for everyone. It is people who want to do deep rooted work specifically in healthcare data and technology, and genuinely want to change the way healthcare is implemented and experienced, that are likely to succeed in this system.
Secondly, with health tech at the cusp of digital revolution, there will be no shortage of job roles that can contribute to improved patient care and experience, reduced costs, and more effective paths to treatments. Preference, however, will be increasingly given to incumbents who bring the best of both worlds to the role – a powerful combination of expertise in business operations as well as understanding of new age technologies.
(The author is Vice President – Human Capital at Optum Global Solutions and the views expressed in this article are his own)