With the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of healthcare jobs has skyrocketed, and this trend shows no sign of stopping. Today, hospitals, ambulatory care centers, and even schools are working hard to find qualified medical professionals. In addition to the boom in clinical jobs, a less-discussed effect of the ACA is a corresponding rise in demand for non-clinical positions. In particular, an increasing number of facilities are seeking medical professionals with HEDIS/QARR expertise. However, there is a severe shortage of people with this skill set.
HEDIS/QARR, short for Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set/Quality Assurance Reporting Requirements, is a set of skills related to medical record retrieval. HEDIS is a tool that nearly all of America's healthcare plans use to ensure they are delivering high-quality care and service. The tool contains 71 measures across 8 domains of care, and because it has been so widely adopted, it can be used to compare healthcare plans on a wide variety of metrics.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance, the agency in charge of HEDIS, changes the guidelines regularly. As a result, there is a high demand for professionals who can not only learn the regulations but stay up to date with the changes. Recent government regulations mandating the use of HEDIS/QARR tools have also contributed to the uptick in demand for professionals with these skills. Additionally, as the patient volume under the ACA has increased, the demand for professionals who are equipped to review medical records has risen accordingly.
What Does the Job Entail?
Working on a HEDIS/QARR project involves looking for specific information in patient charts and taking a sample of information from charts across multiple providers, including managed care companies and large healthcare networks. HEDIS/QARR positions are generally full-time for about six months-from January through May or June. However, the increased demand for professionals with this skill set has led some companies to start hiring HEDIS/QARR staff in the fall-even as early as September-in an effort to snap up the most highly qualified candidates.
On a day-to-day basis, professionals working on a HEDIS/QARR project coordinate with healthcare providers to make arrangements to conduct record retrieval. Because the files must be reviewed in person, HEDIS/QARR professionals often travel locally to the offices where they are stored. Strong organizational skills are a must, as these employees have to keep careful track of the healthcare providers that they have already retrieved records from and those they still need to coordinate with.
Who Makes a Good HEDIS/QARR Professional?
HEDIS/QARR projects are an especially good fit for registered nurses, foreign doctors, and licensed practical nurses who are looking to transition into non-clinical roles. Although non-clinicians may also be eligible for these roles, many companies prefer professionals with prior clinical experience who already have familiarity with the components of medical records.
In addition to being a strong fit for people looking to transition into non-clinical roles, HEDIS/QARR positions are also a good choice for professionals who take on these assignments year after year and those who are looking for a short-term engagement before finding a longer term clinical role. For any professional in this field, an understanding of computers is critical for success in the role. Good communication skills are also important, as the job requires speaking by phone with medical offices to coordinate visits for record retrieval. Flexibility is another critical trait. Due to increased patient volumes physicians are busier than ever, so HEDIS/QARR professionals need to be willing to work with their hectic schedules in order to successfully retrieve and review records.
Prior to beginning a HEDIS/QARR project, employees need to pass a medical abstraction test, which ensures that they can successfully find necessary information from patients' charts. Additionally, many employers request that a candidate has previous experience on a HEDIS/QARR project. For professionals who lack this experience but want to break into the field, there are training courses available that will teach them how to perform the tasks required by a HEDIS/QARR project and position them well to secure a role in the field.
For any clinical professionals looking for a change, this in-demand field can be a great fit.
Amanda Bleakney is a vice president of Health Services within the Temporary Health Services division of The Execu|Search Group, a recruitment, temporary staffing, and workforce management solutions firm.