Which Medical Jobs Will Change or Disappear in the Digital Era?

By Annie Keller

Published May 5, 2020

Coronavirus has brought an interesting paradox to healthcare - how do you increase patient care resources while still limiting the spread of the virus? One of the more common options is the digital doctor's visit, covered in a previous post. But there's more to healthcare than just seeing patients.

Pharmacutical companies have a long history of selling in person. Stay at home orders in most states, however, have curtailed any in person visits they might make. And while almost half of physicians have met with a pharma rep in person, only 9.6% have ever met with one virtually. Digital outreach about products is already part of the pharma playbook, so the basis for more sophisticated remote work is already there. The customer service representatives that will need to learn the new digital role also need to learn a more targeted approach to digital marketing.New jobs can be created here from the digital front, such as coordinating direct delivery of medication and supplies to patients and using digital technology to connect patients with the same condition with each other. Software systems that have the ability to help those workers sell their product have gone from simply an option to a necessity.

Hospital and healthcare workers are also facing new challenges. One healthcare provider, Highmark Health had 8,000 people working from home, including customer service workers and IT consultants. Not only does this present new work circumstances, it also provides new challenges. If workers don't have compatible software, computer systems, and webcams, their ability to do their work is extremely limited. New computer systems that allow workers to access more available data to streamline patient viewing have also come in use, and those systems require new workers or newly trained ones to both implement the systems and teach others how to best use them.

Some positions have simply been abandoned temporarily. Receptionists in many medical offices have been furloughed, and billing staff, janitors, and medical assistants have been deemed not essential. It’s estimated at least 12,000 people in those fields have lost their jobs. And while many of them may get their jobs back, if medical work becomes more virtual, those positions will simply vanish. Billing staff can be trained to work remotely, but if there’s no office to go to, receptionists, assistants, and janitors can’t be used.

It's the opinion of many healthcare higher-ups that there will be no “going back to normal” - the healthcare market will be forever altered by the changes coronavirus has brought. With that there will be many jobs that will be made more important, or obsolete, by those changes.