by Gary Polsky
Looking for a Sales Career with High-Growth Potential? Consider Healthcare.
There’s a reason the most successful people in the world agree you need to “follow your passion” to find success and fulfillment in business and beyond. It’s true. But it takes more than dedication to a dream to carve your niche in life—it takes strategic planning (and usually a bit of luck). That’s where looking for emerging opportunities comes in.
If you have a heart for helping others, a knack for making meaningful connections, and the desire to work in a fast-paced, high-growth industry, it’s a great time to consider a career in healthcare sales.
The Perfect Storm
An aging population and healthcare reform are fueling the expansion of an industry projected to lead job growth into the next quarter-century. From assisted living to wheelchair sales, the healthcare industry is gearing up to accommodate the medical and nonmedical care needs of an increasingly graying populace. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, the number of Americans older than 65 will skyrocket from about 40 million in 2010 to more than 72 million in 2020. To meet these seniors’ care demands, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that almost six million new jobs will be created in the healthcare and social assistance industry through 2020.
The healthcare and social assistance sector is expected to grow by more than 5.7 million jobs by 2020.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graphic from Selling Healthcare: 5 Strategies to Create High-Return Relationship in Healthcare Sales (Que Publishing, 2013)
In addition to the aging boom, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already starting to open new healthcare markets and provide formidable fodder for sales professionals’ value propositions. In a nutshell, the ACA rewards efforts that expand access to care, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs.
So, now more than ever, exciting growth opportunities await healthcare sales professionals who can craft strong value propositions around products and services that:
- Improve quality of life for older consumers—including enhancing the continuum of care for Medicare beneficiaries
- Improve outcomes and reduce costs for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease
- Address the needs of the more than 30 million Americans, mostly younger than 45, who will have first-time access to affordable health insurance
- Reduce the overall financial burden on the healthcare system
Opportunities in High-Potential Markets
The time is truly ripe to forge a fulfilling career in healthcare sales. I’d encourage you to explore opportunities in six key areas that are poised for tremendous growth: wellness (preventative) care, pharmaceutical, medical device, healthcare IT, home health, and hospice.
1. Wellness and Prevention
In the healthcare industry at large, emphasis is shifting from treating sickness on a fee-per-service basis to maintaining overall health and managing illness before it reaches acute proportions. In fact, the National Prevention Strategy (a product of the ACA) is a comprehensive plan designed to shift the health system’s focus from treating illness to preventing it. It’s backed by the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which allocates $10 billion over 10 years to improve overall health and restrain the rising healthcare costs attributed primarily to chronic disease. That’s a massive investment that will create amazing opportunity in this sector!
There’s also great opportunity for pharma reps who align with drugs designed to effectively and affordably treat cumbersome chronic conditions, and for reps who demonstrate success at marketing medicines aimed at prevention. The most successful reps will base their value props on “patient-centered outcomes”—a buzz phrase in healthcare today.
3. Medical Equipment and Supplies
The modern healthcare trifecta—a graying population, a rise in the number of patients suffering from chronic disease, and proclivity for prevention—also is driving demand for medical devices ranging from walkers to joint replacements to digital imaging gear. Again, salespeople who make compelling connections between their products and patient-centered, value-based outcomes will enjoy success in this sector.
4. Health Information Technology (IT)
The future also looks bright for sales professionals marketing technology that will enable healthcare providers to remain better connected with their patients and each other, improve quality of care, cut costs, and provide services to patients in remote locations. One study projects that the number of people who use teleheath services—such as remote monitoring after getting discharged from the hospital—will explode from about 308,000 in 2012 to 1.8 million in 2017.
5. Home Health
As a hospice provider, I know from experience that most people suffering from health issues want to stay in their own homes whenever possible. And there’s a great deal of satisfaction that goes along with providing that care at home. The potent combination of an aging population and an industry shift toward emphasizing the overall value of care in the patient’s own home will fuel an 80 percent increase in total home health employment by 2020, the BLS predicts.
One of the many reasons I’m so passionate about the hospice care model is that it focuses on improving quality of life while embracing the progressive philosophies highlighted in healthcare reform. Hospice takes a collaborative, patient-centered, and cost-effective approach to making the end of life as pain-free and peaceful as possible. It’s an awesomely rewarding career path, and one that will continue to require compassionate consultants to market its unique services.
Gary Polsky is a 30-year veteran of the healthcare industry and is experienced in managing home infusion sales to running hospitals to founding hospice companies in four states. He is currently the President/CEO for Solari Hospice Care, founder of Apex Lifestyle Design and wrote Selling Healthcare: 5 Strategies to Create High-Return Relationships in Healthcare Sales was. Gary regularly writes about sales strategies, motivational leadership, relationship development, the healthcare industry and entrepreneurship.