CareNational is always committed to providing the best service possible to our candidates and our clients. This includes continuing education through interactive conversations with contacts from both the client and candidate perspective. As the 2018 H.E.D.I.S. (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) season approaches, CareNational is dedicating a series of blogs to help health plans. Since we are experts in providing top-tier talent, but not in actually doing Quality Improvement or HEDIS functions, we are tapping into the extensive knowledge of our candidates using an ‘Ask the Expert’ format.
Since CareNational is a boutique third-party Medical Management recruiting and consulting agency, we are limited to very strict parameters for every search, as outlined by our clients. HEDIS season is no different, as we are tasked by our clients to find the most qualified and experienced nurses for their critical and time-sensitive HEDIS staff positions. The most essential piece of the candidate equation is the experience, particularly for limited-term temporary contract assignments.
From time to time, nurses will ask me how they can gain the required HEDIS experience, if they have never worked a HEDIS assignment. To some it may seem like a Catch 22: “I need the experience to get the assignment, but I need the assignment to get the experience.”
I decided to reach out to a few of my favorite nurses that have established HEDIS experience to ask about their early careers. They all had very similar answers when asked how they secured their first HEDIS opportunity. The most obvious answer was “you have to know someone.” This who-do-I-know approach is certainly one job search strategy that might secure a chance at a position without direct experience, but it is definitely not the only factor. Each of these nurses got the opportunity to be considered, not strictly because they knew someone, but because their background and skills were also a match. They all had a strong background in clinical nursing as well as other specific skills that lined up with the project requirements, such as chart review.
There are a variety of ways you might gain supporting skill sets, and it is important to tailor your resume to showcase these past experience in order to demonstrate that skill set.
As in many professions, you can gain directly related experience in your field before becoming a licensed professional; many current nurses started off as office manager or Medical Assistants. Maybe you worked as a medical assistant or a medical records specialist while obtaining your nursing degree. Perhaps you supported scheduling or document management as a HEDIS associate for a season or two before becoming a licensed nurse. These experiences would have built a skill set that is considered an asset when pursuing of your first HEDIS assignment. These associate positions assist the nursing staff in many ways and can give you valuable experience for future projects.
Of course if you did not gain the related experience early in your career, (maybe you did not even know what HEDIS was back then) it is not too late to develop the supporting skills. If you are passionate about HEDIS assignments, but cannot find work without the direct experience, try volunteering to do chart review and coding activities at your current employer. If you have the means, you might also consider taking a step back in pay and responsibilities by serving as a HEDIS associate for a season. It may be just enough to get you where you want to be as a HEDIS abstraction nurse next season.
Aside from direct experience doing HEDIS, or HEDIS-related activities, such as chart review and data abstraction, there are a few online resources you should know about. Of course the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) is the official place for information on HEDIS and other Quality Improvement initiatives. A visit to their website pages on HEDIS will allow you to review and familiarize yourself on the measures being analyzed each year (they change regularly). Just imagine the impact when the first line of your resume (tailored to HEDIS job opportunities of course) states that you are “intimately familiar with the quality measures you will abstract in the current HEDIS season.” At the very least, you will stand out above other individuals with no prior HEDIS experience, because you took the time to do your homework and can prove it.
Beyond general knowledge, the NCQA offers a wide variety of paid training courses. These range in content and price from less than $100 for an interactive online module about a specific aspect of HEDIS, to an in-person week long seminar that runs more than $10,000 per person. Obviously most of these are designed for employers to purchase for the training of staff.
Now it is time for the bad news. I receive a lot of resumes from candidates seeking HEDIS opportunities that don’t have any HEDIS experience. I would love to be able to assist these candidates secure an assignment, but I have to keep the best interest of our clients in mind. CareNational’s clients pay us a fee for finding them the best experienced candidates for these openings. Our clients would not need to tap into our specialized expertise to build a talent pool if they are planning to train nurses in HEDIS processes. First-timers and other newcomers to HEDIS are easy enough for them to find on their own, without paying a fee for someone they have to spend time and resources training.
The harsh reality is that the timeline of the HEDIS season is too compressed for many health plans to dedicate substantial time training HEDIS staff from scratch. That is where CareNational comes in, and we partner with health plans and vendors to identify, recruit, and place those nurses with recent direct HEDIS experience. Once you have at least one complete season on your resume, CareNational can be your best recruiting partner, helping you continue working HEDIS projects year after year.
As stated initially, CareNational is an expert in HEDIS staffing and career search consultation in these specialized areas, but we do not perform the functions ourselves. So how did we do? Did you find this information useful? We love feedback!