Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012

While many people in the healthcare industry agree that telehealth is getting hotter every year, nothing is as good an indicator of that growth as growth in hiring. Roz Ben-Chitrit, managing director of Sanford Rose Associates’ telehealth/mHealth recruitment practice can attest to that growth. Any organization that wants to stay competitive in this increasingly competitive industry needs to figure out how to find and attract the right talent.

In today’s article, Roz discusses not only what is driving growth in telehealth, but also some of the top hiring trends, and how employers can do a better job of filling open positions.

Telehealth is an interesting industry – because despite its “niche-iness,” there are niches within the niche that address specific markets. Some companies provide only services, others supply hardware, and still others that support the industry through infrastructure. Some companies focus on acute care, others on ambulatory care, and still others stress consumer and/or home care as their target market. While the telehealth sector is experiencing growth at this time, within and among the industry’s players, the requirements for the right type of talent vary significantly. This largely depends on the type of products or services being offered and to whom. What’s true across the board in the telehealth marketplace is that times are changing.

The Affordable Care Act has provided opportunities for growth, largely because of the push for increased access and cost reduction while expanding coverage to a growing percentage of the US population. Telemedicine and related technologies offer significant benefits in both of these areas. Consumers and organizations – from providers to payers – are increasingly embracing telehealth services and products to improve care and improve satisfaction. And, for many, technology now is either ubiquitous enough or straight-forward enough for end-users to readily embrace it. All these factors point to growth now and more growth on the horizon.Here are some of the hottest trends in telehealth from a hiring perspective:

Telehealth / mHealth Hiring Trends

Our experience in the telehealth market, in conjunction with interviews with leaders of a number of telehealth companies, has pointed to three major trends (one is really a challenge) in recruiting.

Hiring Trend #1: Organizational Growth

Companies are adding new positions across all disciplines and at all levels in order to support market demand.John Palumbo, CEO of Aligne Health Resources, shared that they are expanding and have needs for professionals in areas as broad as nursing, care service representatives and medicine.Some companies are adding new positions faster than others, and some firms are considering models that include contracting out for certain positions, outsourcing project-type work and partnering with other companies to accomplish non-competitive activities.

Hiring Trend #2: Creative and innovative thinking about who and how to hire

Companies in the telehealth space are very “cutting edge” and forward thinking. Unlike the traditional model of requiring that employees be based at headquarters, we find that there’s generally an open-minded approach in telehealth companies. Ralph Derrickson, CEO of Carena, in Seattle, put it aptly when he said that at Carena they “don’t care where you are physically, [they] care where you are mentally.”Jonathon Feit, CEO of Beyond Lucid Technologies, shared that his firm looks to hire people who are the best at what they do, and often results in their finding workers with extensive experience who may be discriminated against by others but are a great fit for his company.

Hiring Trend #3: The right sales talent is hard to find

Many organizations are challenged with finding great sales people to suit their particular and very different needs. According to ExecuNet’s Executive Job Market Intelligence 2012 survey, finding appropriate sales talent is a challenge across all industries. Jason Goldberg, president of Ideal Life, a Toronto-based telehealth company, shared that it’s challenging to find seasoned professionals who understand the sales process and are able to sell innovative solutions. Dr. Sukhwant Khanuja, CEO and founder of Carematix, explained that it would be ideal to have sales professionals who are “50 year olds with a 20 year old mind” – possessing the maturity to gain the respect of decision-makers but fluent in the latest technology. Others, like Eric Trappen of EmergeMD says it can be challenging to find the right combination of skills and experience who can sell their unique cloud-based service.

The Keys to a Good Hire

Many hiring authorities (and recruiters) ensure that candidates have the technical skills, are in the salary range and live in or will relocate to the desired location. But that isn’t enough. The cost of making a bad hire simply is too high. Employers can and should take steps to ensure that they get it right…and insist that recruiters they work with get it right, too. There are five key areas that – for successful hires at any level – must be aligned between the hiring company and the candidate. Technical skills/knowledge and expectations are easy to match up, but the others are often overlooked. The five areas needing alignment are:

Hiring Key #1: Technical skills and knowledge

This includes “check the box” requirements needed to perform a job. It may include certifications, degrees, industry experience that are absolute “must haves” for candidates. Desirable skills are okay to list, too, but be clear that when evaluating candidates it’s simply a plus…not the deciding factor. Don’t put items on this list when they don’t really matter!

Hiring Key #2: Expectations

The most common expectations include compensation (company budget and candidate requirements), location, title, supervision, and benefits. Everyone’s expectations should be put on the table early in the process. For critical and challenging positions, take the time to figure out how much flexibility there is in areas like compensation, location, and title.

Hiring Key #3: Experiential translation

This is especially important in emerging markets like telehealth. Because there is so much novelty in telehealth, it can be challenging to find candidates with proven success doing exactly what an employer wants them to accomplish. But there may be great candidates from other industries with similar successful experiences that can be translated in ways that would support the telehealth company. Companies should broaden their perspectives and think about parallel or synergistic industries that may be good to emulate.

Hiring Key #4: Cultural fit

Every company has its own persona – think Myers-Briggs personality assessment for a company – and ensuring that new hires are comfortable with that culture is important. Someone who doesn’t fit the culture will be unhappy and likely won’t be a great employee. Companies should understand their own culture so they can identify which candidates will be comfortable in their environment.

Hiring Key #5: Chemistry

Culture focuses on the organization, while chemistry relates to the interpersonal relationship between the candidate and key individuals. Most important is the relationship between the candidate and the hiring manager. Synergistic or complementary work styles are crucial for success in any position. Companies wanting to expand their candidate pools with great talent should be open-minded, looking for overall fit and not demanding skills or experiences that aren’t truly necessary for success. Creating a written “position profile” that defines the company, the role and important considerations about both is a good place to start and helps target the type of candidate who will be a good “fit.”

Overcoming the Hurdles

As evidenced by the executives quoted for this article, companies can overcome the challenges in hiring by being creative and focusing on what they’re trying to achieve. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy! When one adds criteria like cultural fit and good chemistry into the hiring decision, it can become more difficult. Within the telehealth world, challenges can be great because of the newness of the industry. But the talent is out there…sometimes it’s just hard to find. The bottom line keys to success?

First: be creative.

That may mean locating a new office near an existing pool of candidates or hiring people who work from home on a regular basis. Telehealth leaders have shown themselves to be creative and unconventional thinkers…this is a place to let those characteristics take over.

Second: ensure that your management team is well networked.

Stay involved in professional groups, local organizations (especially if location matters for new hires), and even on-line. Each of these pools of contacts provides an opportunity to get the word out about opportunities and to find new talent.

Third: when the going gets tough, consider bringing in professional help.

While some balk at paying professional fees associated with recruiters, the ROI for those fees is usually quick. After years of waiting for the confluence of economic and social pressures, regulations and technology to highlight the value of telehealth, it’s time for the industry to grow. While it may not always be easy, as Jonathon Feit noted, “there is a reservoir of talent waiting to be tapped.”

To learn more about career opportunities in telehealth/mHealth, contact Sanford Rose Associates’ recruitment practice at You can also contact Roz Ben-Chitrit at [email protected]

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