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The State Of Executive Hiring In Healthcare It
Nina McMaster talks roles in demand, hot healthcare IT sectors, candidate profiles and diversity
As a partner with ON Partners, Nina McMaster places senior executive and board talent in the life sciences, technology, and consumer sectors and works with Fortune 500 companies, private equity-backed companies, as well as startups in the US, Asia, and Europe. She currently focuses on the healthcare IT sector, which has grown exponentially in the past few years.
Here, Nina shares insights on the growth of the healthcare IT space and executive positions that are in demand, candidates poised for success in the sector, and the role that cultural fit and diversity play in the hiring process.
What roles are in high demand right now?
Over the past year, we’ve seen high demand for CTO and VP of IT roles, reflecting the major uptick in investment in growth broadly within the healthcare IT space. Historically, healthcare has been slower to adopt new technologies and enter the digital world compared with other sectors, but the pandemic has accelerated it dramatically, particularly as we’ve moved into telemedicine and telehealth. The lack of in-person access to providers helped drive the adoption of remote care, and the healthcare industry isn’t going to slow down now.
Overall, there’s been more investment in the healthcare IT space and higher demand for leaders and head of product as well.
We’ve also seen a shift to focus more on platforms and services, so executive roles have evolved to encapsulate not just a product or platform but the associated wraparound services as well. The chief product officer requires a different set of skills than a CTO, chief digital officer or a more traditional CIO profile. Healthcare IT companies have increasingly segmented responsibilities out under these new leaders, whereas they may previously have been rolled up in the legacy CIO role.
Are there particular sectors within healthcare IT that are particularly hot?
There has been a strong focus on the patient and everything surrounding the patient journey. Telehealth is a big part of that, along with many related areas. For example, remote patient monitoring allows providers to send patients home from overburdened hospitals earlier than in the past with a device to measure and report heart rate and other vitals.
Platforms that use machine learning and AI to help navigate the patient journey and present a more cohesive picture of that journey are increasingly in demand.
Disparate providers are able to communicate with each other and provide a more comprehensive view of a patient’s history, who they’ve seen, the care received, and medications that have been prescribed. The VC community recognizes the potential and is actively investing in healthcare IT startups that are building platforms to help create a single, more complete patient journey.
Who is the ideal candidate for hiring companies in this space, if there is such a person?
Many healthcare IT companies are recruiting executive candidates from outside the space, recognizing for example the potential of strong candidates coming from high growth SaaS companies because they’ve seen the advancement of a “cloud-first” attitude for years – and healthcare is now playing catchup. These organizations stand to benefit from candidates with experience in high-growth environments, understanding these leaders can learn the healthcare piece.
In our searches, we’ve looked outside of the healthcare space quite a bit since a strong SaaS background, in particular, is in high demand.
Where HIPAA compliance is important, we need someone with healthcare experience. From a candidate’s perspective, we’re seeing that what they are looking for from a new opportunity has changed. Growth is always exciting but joining a mission-driven company is most important. In this hypercompetitive market, organizations that are making a tangible difference in the lives of patients are the ones that are most attractive to executive candidates.
While 50% of the battle is finding a candidate who makes sense on paper and has the right skills and technical chops, the other 50% is making sure there’s a true culture match, whether it’s for a remote, in-person or hybrid position. Aligning with a company on its mission and goals is more important to candidates than ever, and clients want to ensure candidates have the potential to be a long-term fit.
One example is Intelycare, a nurse staffing firm that provides a better way for post-acute healthcare facilities to keep shifts filled with qualified, engaged, and reliable nursing professionals. We’ve placed several senior executives there, including chief people officer, board director, and audit chair independent board director. The need for skilled nurses is sky high, and the company provides W-2-based employment, along with benefits and overtime pay, among other benefits. Candidates see the impact the company is having on the lives of nurses and patients and are eager to be part of the organization.
What progress is being made in placing more diverse talent in the healthcare IT space?
Diversity is absolutely at the forefront and has been for the past few years in particular. Every search we undertake includes several diverse candidates, and it’s no longer something we discuss or call out as a must-have, it’s simply ingrained in our process. The market for diverse talent has become very competitive over the past several years, particularly across IT leadership roles. We’re committed to partnering closely with our clients to continue their diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives.
In addition to Intelycare, Nina and her team’s recent placements in the healthcare IT sector include several senior executives at RxBenefits, including the senior director, sales & account management operations/VP, commercial excellence, the VP of account management, and its chief technology officer; the chief information and technology officer at McKesson/Ontada; and the CTO of Clearwave.
Want more information on ON’s commitment to increasing the number of diverse executives in leadership positions? Check out our DEI in the ON community portal for more resources and recent diversity appointments.
Find our related successful placements of leading executives here.
About ON Partners
Since 2006, ON Partners is the only pure-play executive search firm building diverse C-level and board leadership teams. We rebuilt the institution of executive search for the way you work. Our approach includes present partners who engage with their clients from the first brief to the final decision, individually crafted solutions that are unique to each client, and an easier experience all around. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists nine times, ON Partners is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S.
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