Palmetto Primary Care Physicians’ $32 million expansion into the burgeoning Nexton development near Summerville will develop a six-building campus delivering primary, specialty and urgent care, and offer imaging and lab services. It will create 250 permanent jobs and signal a new vision: a continuum of care focused on outcomes rather than services delivered. That will reinforce the trend towards job opportunities for those who can integrate technology and business management principles into their practices, whether they are clinicians or administrative professionals.
As reimbursements increasingly pay for the value of care delivered rather than the number of visits and tests ordered, expertise in analyzing, manipulating and reporting the data will be increasingly at a premium. Middle managers with these skills are in high demand and have greater opportunity for advancement.
David Carroll, executive director of business and project development for Palmetto Primary Physicians Care, projects that administrative positions will comprise roughly 25 of those newly created jobs at Nexton, and individuals with advanced degrees in the business side of health care – MHAs and MBAs – will have the greatest opportunities. He says demand for people trained in data analysis far outstrips the supply in the Charleston area.
The move towards fee-for-value, which is mandated as part of the Affordable Care Act and in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, will require health care providers to follow patients beyond their office visits and hospital stays. For example, says Carroll, hospitals will have the incentive to contact patients after discharge to ensure their compliance with medication and therapy regimes in order to improve their health outcomes. No longer will it be sufficient to send patients home with a set of instructions and best wishes.
The growing need for more broadly-skilled practitioners and operations-side employees has prompted Palmetto Primary Care to collaborate with the Lowcountry Graduate Center on bringing to the Charleston area the SC State MBA program’s healthcare management concentration. Carroll, who has been Palmetto’s point-person for this initiative, and who has helped develop the curriculum for it, has identified coding as the key skill needed by students, physicians and advanced practitioners. Coding, done properly, can demonstrate whether a patient was correctly diagnosed and treated, “and then on the back end we’re able to see if that patient is actually healthier,” he said.
Graduates of the MBA in Healthcare Management will be qualified to manage a variety of health-related organizations such as medical practices, rehab facilities and nursing homes, and also serve in management positions at related businesses like insurance companies.
Research by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2014 suggests that health care employment will continue to grow in the Lowcountry, adding approximately 1,000 new jobs each year. Carroll says Palmetto Primary Care has encouraged its employees to develop their business-side skills in order to increase their value to the organization and foster greater opportunity for themselves.