Even in the darkest days of the economic downturn, jobs in healthcare appeared “recession-proof.” Now that the economy has largely recovered, the healthcare industry remains strong. In fact, according to Aerotek’s director of divisional operations — scientific, Michelle Cook, “the current environment for the healthcare market is arguably the most lucrative it has been in more than a decade …”

Those seeking temporary positions in healthcare saw a 17 percent increase in job openings during 2015 and will continue to see growth in 2016, says Cook.

Why is healthcare staffing outpacing growth in other industries? Cook says that several factors are in play.

1. The Affordable Care Act means more consumers

Since the enactment of the ACA in 2010, millions of previously uninsured Americans have entered the marketplace. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, a whopping 23 million additional consumers generated strong financials for the healthcare sector.

What’s more, the Congressional Budget Office projects an additional six million non-elderly U.S. residents will gain health insurance in 2016. “This means we should see demand growing at above average levels for at least another year-and-a-half,” says Aerotek Market Research Analyst, Kerry Heffner. “In 2017 and beyond, growth in newly insured begins to taper off.”

2. Nurses still needed … but shortage is tapering

Registered nurses, telehealth nurses and case managers are tied for first place in CareerBuilder and EMSI’s most recent list of the top-ranked jobs with the largest gap between job openings and hires.

In future years, however, the outlook is mixed, says Heffner. “We will find that the ageing U.S. population healthcare usage will continue to increase, and while not an otherwise welcome development, increasing levels of obesity will raise the demand for nurses and other healthcare providers in the long-term. On the other hand, the government is no longer projecting a nursing shortage and now actually expects an excess of nurses by 2025,” she adds.

3. Calling all Medical Assistants!

CareerBuilder and EMSI also note that the demand for medical assistants will grow by 27 percent in 2016. Likewise the market for pharmacy techs will grow by the same percentage. Meanwhile, the demand for pharmacists is projected to grow by 2 percent though the role will likely become more diverse due to the growth of telehealth and telemedicine. As none of this growth would be possible without detailed patient records, the medical records and information tech fields are understandably projected to increase by 18 to 26 percent in 2016.

4. The areas where you’ll find jobs

While jobs are still plentiful in acute care units, nurses and medical assistants will find new opportunities in ancillary and outpatient sites and surgical centers, says Cook. As the Baby Boomers age, there is great demand for senior care where many positions are available in nursing and assisted living facilities.

The Career Builder and EMSI findings note, the best states for healthcare sector growth in 2016 are: Florida and New Mexico (5 percent) growth and Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Texas and New York (4 percent) growth.

5. Telemedicine on the rise

Telemedicine is “the delivery of remote clinical services using technology such as … two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.” According to a new report by Tractica, telehealth video consultation sessions will increase from 19.7 million in 2014 to 158.4 million per year by 2020.

The market intelligence firm anticipates that, “while clinical consultations currently constitute more than three-quarters of the market, growth over the next several years will be especially strong in non-clinical settings. Tractica forecasts that non-clinical video consultations will outnumber clinical consultations by 2019.” In short, Telehealth will create jobs for primary care doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and others.

6. Wearable tech and medical devices

The medical devices market is growing by leaps and bounds according to Partha Choudhury of Harbinger Systems. The market “has been estimated at USD 3.3 billion in 2015 and is projected to reach USD 7.8 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 17.7 percent during the forecast period from 2015 to 2020.”

What’s it all about? Wearable technology enables patients “to monitor their health data round the clock and share with the physician whenever required. The devices “act as bio-sensors which are attached to the human body to detect and monitor various parameters in the body and record health data, which is further integrated into a patient’s care,” says Choudhury.

“Medtech employees today are floating high thanks to increased revenues, the return of funding to the sector, and robust hiring by top companies,” reported Jamie Hartford in Medical Device Business in September. “For the second year in a row,” says Hartford, “the medical device and diagnostic industry are employees’ markets.”

7. What’s next?

Keep your eyes on these trends that will continue to impact the healthcare sector in the coming year:

  • Mergers and acquisitions in biopharma
  • An increased development and demand for biosimilars that will increase the numbers of clinical trials
  • More Baby Boomers become Medicare-eligible with many choosing a Medicare Advantage program.

Noticing any other trends? We’d love to hear from you. Continue the conversation on Twitter or Facebook