Insurers turn to nurses to power care coordination

Health insurers have taken the trend of payer-provider collaboration a step further, adding more nurses to their ranks than ever before.

Cigna, for instance, tells Forbes that it employs six times the number of nurses than in did a decade ago, with about 2,000 currently on staff. Humana, meanwhile, has 10,500 nurses, or seven times the number it had in 2010. And Health Care Service Corp., which owns five Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, plans to increase its hiring of nurses by 15 percent each of the next six years.

But the nation's largest insurer beats them all: UnitedHealth currently has more than 15,000 nurses on staff, with a company spokesman telling Forbes that new opportunities are opening up for nurses in both the clinical and business settings.

Humana, one of the dominant insurers in the Medicare Advantage space, says its on-staff nurses boost its complex chronic care management and chronic condition care management capabilities. To that end, some insurers embed their nurses in provider facilities in order to help with care coordination or use them to staff 24-hour nurse call lines for their members, the article notes.

Across the healthcare sector, demand for nurses continues to grow--especially for those with more experience, FierceHealthcare has reported. Yet positions also are opening up for new graduates as experienced nurses move into new roles, and some experts now estimate the impending nursing shortage may not be as severe as initially predicted.

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