Healthcare degrees that can lead to jobs in business

February 22, 2021

Ailsa Regnier

Where healthcare meets business

It’s no secret that healthcare is an excellent option for compassionate people who want to secure a lucrative career in a growing field. While projections vary by job, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projected that employment in healthcare occupations will grow 15% from 2019 to 2029—significantly higher than the 3.7% projected average job growth across all occupations. However, if you hold or are seeking a degree in healthcare, you may have even more options for a career within the field than you think. Increasingly, businesses and corporations in the healthcare space are hiring people with degrees in healthcare, both in business and in clinical roles. 

Now more than ever, businesses like health insurance, health services, and pharmaceutical companies understand the value of bringing in experienced physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, behavioral health practitioners, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, social workers, etc., as they seek to remain competitive and ensure high-quality clinical solutions for their customers. What’s more, once you’re on board, many companies may even help finance part or all of any advanced degrees you choose to pursue that will help you in your role or in a future position as your career progresses.  

In this post, I discuss 14 options available on the business side of healthcare to help you maximize your career potential. 

Home visit nurse or nurse practitioner

If you are a licensed registered nurse or nurse practitioner who enjoys being on the move and helping some of the most vulnerable patients, know that many healthcare companies hire clinicians to provide home visits for people with limited mobility, like seniors or new mothers recovering from childbirth.

These nurses and nurse practitioners have strong interpersonal skills and bring a human touch to healthcare services, complete health assessments, capture diagnoses and more. With a growing focus on addressing the social determinants of health, which includes access to transportation, and an increased need for in-home services in the post COVID19 era, companies are wanting to expand their in-home health services. 

Nurse advocate

For licensed registered nurses who want to help  others and are comfortable doing so virtually, a job as a nurse advocate might be an ideal option. These professionals support patients by phone, either when they call in with questions about a health-related issue or as part of a clinical program designed to address chronic diseases or conditions. 

In addition to patient advocacy, nurse advocates provide education and connect patients to the resources that will help them live healthier lives. In some cases, these nurses are able to monitor patients remotely through smart devices like scales, iPads, health trackers, or other technology. This can allow them to  proactively reach out if they see concerning health trends like high blood pressure, medication misuse, or other potential issues.  

Behavioral health advocate

Like nurse advocates, behavioral health advocates support people who need help managing questions, or as part of a larger clinical program. Behavioral health advocates focus on helping patients navigate their mental health issues. They are tasked with helping patients remain stable in their homes or communities.

Their focus is on engaging patients in appropriate treatment and assisting them to find relevant community services to help them reduce the need for inpatient stays in institutions or hospitals. These professionals typically have a master’s degree and are licensed in psychology, social work, behavioral and mental health counseling, or a similar field. Due to a growing understanding that mental health is an important element of overall health, behavioral health advocates will continue to be valuable resources for both patients and businesses in the healthcare sector.  

Provider relations advocate

Provider relations advocates are employed by health insurers and health services companies but work directly with healthcare providers, and are often located in a clinic or other care setting. Successful provider relations advocates balance healthcare experience with a strong focus on building and maintaining relationships. Provider relations advocates answer the questions from healthcare providers related to billing, reimbursement, prior authorizations or other insurance-related concerns. 

Provider relations advocates come from a number of degree programs within healthcare, including community health, health administration, and public health administration. Most companies require that provider relations advocates have a background in managed care as well as provider relations or provider network experience. These analysts monitor online activity on the lookout for security breaches. They investigate any violations when they occur. Their primary focus is using technology to protect an organization’s computer networks and online information.

Practice performance manager

Another option for healthcare professionals with strong interpersonal skills, practice performance managers oversee relationships with healthcare providers or provider groups to manage the health of a specific population. Practice performance managers establish and maintain practice and provider relationships and help facilitate training and planning. 

They also ensure providers or provider groups have data and analytics about care opportunities, uncover and offer recommendations to address gaps in care, and provide other insights to help better serve the patient population. While practice performance managers come from various degree backgrounds, holding a bachelor’s degree in health administration, health management, nursing, or public health administration is common to those choosing this career path. 

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Health coach

Are you passionate about helping people develop better habits to address a health or well-being concern? Many up-and-coming and traditional players in the healthcare sector are beginning to take a whole-person approach to health and hiring coaches who help people address health goals like losing weight, stopping smoking, adopting healthier eating habits, reducing stress, sleeping better, and more. 

Although many health coaches sit onsite to ensure easy access to the people they’re seeking to help, this job can be performed by telephone or through virtual video chat. This job can be especially gratifying for those who crave results, as many health coaches get to see their patients progress over time, thanks to their help. Depending on the support needed, people with degrees and licensure in fields like dietetics, nutrition, health and wellness, public health, and nursing may find successful careers as health coaches.  

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Community health worker

Most people don’t realize that the business side of healthcare also employs community health workers to identify the people whose health may be impacted by lack of transportation, housing, food, or other essential social determinants of health. Community health workers meet with patients and coordinate local resources to help address and overcome the issues impacting their overall health. 

Many community health workers choose to join health insurance companies because they understand the impact they can have on the lives of insurance companies’ most at-risk populations, which are often those who receive their benefits through Medicare or Medicaid. In addition to a desire to make a difference, community health workers may have a degree in community health, public health, social work, or a related area of expertise.   

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Pharmacist

If you are a licensed, degree-holding pharmacist, significant opportunities on the business side of healthcare may be available to you. In fact, many graduates choose to enter the business world immediately upon graduation. Each year, the pharmaceutical industry hires thousands of graduates and experienced professionals to help them manage clinical research, ensure drug safety, manage regulatory affairs, and so much more. 

There is ample need for pharmacists on the business side of healthcare, and pharmaceutical degree-holders are well advised to broaden their search outside of the pharmaceutical industry, as health insurers and other healthcare companies employ pharmacists to support their clinical programs. The responsibilities of clinical pharmacists may include reviewing medication recommendations, performing medication reconciliations, and responding to questions about prescriptions.  

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Medication coordinator

Licensed pharmacy technicians are also in high need. In addition to performing traditional pharmacy technician functions, they may find a career in a healthcare corporation as a medication coordinator. Medication coordinators are responsible for building strong relationships and communicating with patients to assist with medical plans and insurance concerns. They also help promote the services of a  healthcare organization to consumers to increase the scope of patients served. 

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Pharmacy appeals technician

A position as a pharmacy appeals technician is another option for pharmacy technicians seeking to move to  the business side of healthcare. Pharmacy appeals technicians are responsible for working with patients, physicians, and pharmacists to ensure accurate and timely processing of prescriptions. Under the supervision of a pharmacist or nurse, these professionals triage drug preauthorization requests, which includes prioritizing reviews, preparing cases, tracking, organizing documentation, reviewing cases and potentially escalating complex cases for clinical review.  

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Clinical review nurse

Health insurance companies also employ registered nurses to assist in clinical reviews. Clinical review nurses use established managed care principles and sound judgment to coordinate, develop, implement, and evaluate plans of care for patients. For instance, a clinical reviewer may assess prior authorization requests to confirm whether a procedure is medically necessary or eligible for coverage based on a patient’s health insurance benefit plan. Clinical review nurses typically require experience with medical coding, in addition to holding an active license as a registered nurse.  

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Medical director

Escalated or complex clinical review cases that clinical review nurses are unable to process are managed by medical directors who are trained physicians. Medical directors are physicians who help facilitate peer-to-peer consultations with healthcare providers, working to understand why a prior authorization was submitted, discuss alternative treatment plans, and more. 

Medical directors are typically specialists who work in a specialty area like clinical advocacy and support, neurosurgery, internal medicine, appeals and grievances. In addition to graduating with a degree in medicine, medical directors must be currently licensed to practice medicine in the state where they work, be board certified in their area of specialty,  and have experience working in a clinical practice. 

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Inpatient care manager

Inpatient care managers are trained, licensed nurses who monitor a patient’s care while they are in the hospital to make sure they receive accurate and appropriate care, using established criteria. They are responsible for assessing and interpreting patient needs and identifying solutions to ensure they’re getting the right level of care. Inpatient care managers also support discharge planning and transitional care management, helping to facilitate a smooth transition from the hospital to home or a patient’s next care setting. 

These relationship-builders work with other clinical staff, including medical directors, with who they collaborate to perform utilization management and consultation as needed on complex cases. However, because they require no direct physical interaction, inpatient care managers may enjoy the ability to work remotely. 

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Healthcare quality manager

These experts work in healthcare companies to facilitate healthcare quality programs. They help an organization close gaps in care, improve population health, achieve accreditations, and receive reimbursement from the government for healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Healthcare quality managers are analytical problem-solvers with a strong drive to achieve results for their organization and the patients they serve. Healthcare quality managers can be nurses, health information managers, people with community health or health administration degrees, or others with a strong background and understanding of healthcare quality. 

Conclusion 

Companies in and outside of the healthcare industry are always searching for amazing clinicians to join their teams, so keep your eye out for hiring events and virtual career fairs that can provide you with more information, opportunities to chat with recruiters, and resources to help you get started. Also, if the business side of healthcare is something you’re interested in pursuing, consider whether a course in business or honing your financial and business acumen might positively impact your interview. 

While many companies offer external training or internal programs to help you learn about their corporate culture and the business side of healthcare, coming in with at least a base level of knowledge will serve you well and establish you as a credible business partner to your team and colleagues. 

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