CHES/MCHES & CPHs- Is it time you leveled up your skills?

As healthcare evolves into a value-based care (value of services) model and away from a fee for service (based on volume) model, patient-centered care becomes of increasing focus. This means CHES®, MCHES®, and CPHs are facing an exciting time for greater career opportunities within traditional and evolving roles. Traditionally CHES® and MCHES® facilitate healthy behaviors among diverse groups of individuals or populations in a variety of settings such as healthcare facilities, hospitals, government, academia, business sectors, communities, and non-profit organizations. The projected growth for CHES® is 21% by 2022. Coinciding with this growth is the evolution of newer healthcare technologies, preventive care, and population health programs, restructuring of healthcare payment models and reimbursement, and the increased influence of social media. There is also an increased need for qualified public health professionals, including those with the CPH designation to meet the evolving public health needs of bioterrorism, infectious disease outbreaks, widespread opioid addiction, and others. 

The different roles played by CHES®, MCHES®, and CPHs make them an asset to any organization. The unique skills they possess helps to strengthen the positive direction that healthcare is headed – high-quality, efficient, and optimal patient-centered care. There are eight principles of patient-centered care, which include: 

  1. Respect for patients’ values, preferences, and expressed needs 
    a. Patients are involved in the decision-making process. Decisions are made by incorporating values, preferences, dignity, respect, autonomy, and cultural sensitivity
  2. Coordination and integration of care 
    a. Proper coordination of care at important interfaces such as clinical and front-line care, and ancillary and support services
  3. Information and education 
    a. Fully provide information and education to patients regarding clinical status, progress and prognosis, processes of care, and information to facilitate autonomy, self-care, and health promotion.
  4. Physical comfort 
    a. Improving physical comfort with pain management, assistance with activities and daily living needs, and hospital surroundings and environment.
  5. Emotional support and alleviation of fear and anxiety 
    a. Concerns that could exacerbate anxiety and fear should be considered in the care of patients, including physical status, treatment and prognosis, impact of the illness on patients and their family, and the financial impact of illness.
  6. Involvement of family and friends 
    a. This includes making accommodations for family and friends, involving them in decision making, supporting family members as caregivers, and recognizing the needs of family and friends.
  7. Continuity and transition 
    a. Facilitating proper discharge planning by providing comprehensible and detailed information concerning medications, physical limitations, dietary needs, etc. 

    b. Additionally, provide assistance and support for clinical, social, physical, and financial continuous treatment and post-discharge services.
  8. Access to care 
    a. Patients need to know they can access care when it is needed. Focusing mainly on ambulatory care, the following areas are important to patients:
    i. Access to hospitals, clinics, and physician offices.
    ii. Availability of transportation
    iii. Ease of scheduling appointments
    iv. Availability of appointments 
    v. Clear instructions provided on when and how to get referrals vi. Accessibility to specialists or specialty services when a referral is made 

With the increased use and access to various social media platforms, technological innovation including promoting health through intelligent automation services like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI); CHES®, MCHES®, and CPHs should equip themselves with in-demand soft skills (people person skills) to not only differentiate themselves but to carve a niche in a very competitive market. 

Based on observation and research here are some of the highly sought after the soft skills CHES®, MCHES®, and CPHs utilize the most: 

1. Branding: This term is used loosely and arbitrarily to meet individual needs. Generally, branding has been associated with the marketing practice of crafting a name (e.g., of a company), symbol, or design that distinguishes your product from others. There’s been much talk on “personal branding,” which focuses on marketing individuals concerning their careers, maintaining a positive reputation, impression, skillset, and affiliation with products offered. Developing an individual brand seems daunting and mythological, but not impossible. Please be on the lookout for a future presentation on our eLearning platform on the topic of personal branding for CHES®, MCHES®, and CPHs. 

2. Creativity: As previously mentioned, the general public’s intellectual space is heavily saturated with social media and online access to all ranges of information. CHES®, MCHES®, and CPHs should consider engaging in continuous professional development courses beyond those providing CE credits. This will help keep them abreast of novel ideas, enabling them to apply new solutions to existing issues, and attract others, especially if you are an entrepreneur or considering entrepreneurship. 

3. Networking: Stepping outside your comfort zones is one of the best pieces of advice I could offer anyone working in public health. This may require changing old ways of thinking and meeting professionals from other disciplines using platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All of which opens up endless possibilities, both long-term and short-term, for you and your patient. 

4. Innovation: Another term that is used loosely and arbitrarily. Perceived innovation created in silo when someone else somewhere has recreated the exact same thing and is effectively marketing their product is not innovation. I see this all the time. Innovation requires effective market research to identify what is available and evaluate the competition. The goal is to offer something different and unique, even if it means tweaking or modifying existing idea(s), concepts, procedures, or methodologies to attain the desired outcome(s). 

5. Digital skills: This could be considered an extension of branding and includes brand management techniques, such as online branding, presence, and digital marketing strategies. This approach seeks to attract and build online-based relationships, as well as produce and promote device type applications or media content. Those with advanced computer skills, including the ability to code a website and understand and utilize social media effectively, are at a major advantage. 

6. Data analytics: Outside of its use in publishing meaningful data, data analytics require the ability to carefully review and make sense of data, which may or may not be discipline- specific. The idea is to work outside of your silos and be seen as an expert in synthesizing and interpreting trends and other relevant data. This skill could improve your business acumen and value within any organization, grow your business, or attract others looking for your type of expertise. Those with statistics and programming background may be at an advantage. 

7. Culture awareness: We are getting more diverse and showing no signs of slowing down. Although an old topic, one should opt to go beyond workplace development on cultural awareness and sensitivity. For example, see what other organizations and events exist and plan to attend. You never know when an idea for providing beneficial services to a specific population(s) might be generated. It is a misnomer to think that market segmentation should be left to major corporations, but it is beneficial to anyone providing skills and services to the public. Market segmentation may involve demographic, psychographic behavioral, and geographic evaluations. Please be on the lookout for a future presentation on segmentation and social marketing on our eLearning platforms. 

8. Critical thinking: This might be a touchy topic since most of us believe we have the necessary critical thinking skills to perform our routine duties and tasks. Critical thinking is an art that requires fine-tuning and, yes, practice. One sure way of improving critical thinking skills is to increase one’s knowledge on various topics, including the ones we don’t like, to enable interacting with other experts to provide objective analysis and evaluations. 

9. Leadership: Figure out what type of leadership style works for you and find ways to develop your style, even if you are not currently in a recognized leadership role. This might help boost and emote self-confidence to others and improve receptivity to your brand, message, and or products. Body language and a sense of confidence can articulate what you find difficult to say! 

10. Emotional intelligence (EI): This is often the missing piece to the puzzle of interacting with others or trying to convey a personal brand. The ability to distinguish emotions and thoughts can become useful in optimizing self-efficacy and promote creativity. EI is not an easy trait and requires self-awareness and practice. There are tons of books on the subject matter, which provide tips on how to develop and enhance EI skillset. 

Updating your skillsets will open new career opportunities beyond the scope of healthcare. The ultimate goal is to enhance the skillsets required for today’s workforce and level-up competitiveness. This may provide the momentum to develop novel roles, evolve outside your routine functions, and provide career advancement opportunities and satisfaction.

Dr. O’Neal Malcolm

Pharm.D., DrPH, PAHM, BCPS, BCGP, CHES CEO/Founder ICON Health Consultancy, LLC

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