Imagine a smart health care world where X-rays and scans are co-read by intelligent machines as well as human technicians for greater accuracy, where hospital rooms are equipped with “Alexa” devices to answer patients’ questions or summon nurses, where patients from pregnant mothers to heart attack survivors are monitored remotely and require fewer office visits, where surgeons operate using a robotic arm while watching a magnified monitor, where doctors and hospitals can be paid almost instantaneously with little patient effort.
All those scenarios and more are in various stages of use or development in the U.S. health care industry. Now, imagine the in-house lawyers needed to make it all work.
General counsel Loretta Cecil doesn’t have to imagine it. She knows one of the hottest in-house counsel tickets right now lies at the intersection of technology, health care and the law.
“That’s the story of my life. I’m seeing it every day,” quipped Cecil, executive vice president and GC of Change Healthcare. The Nashville, Tennessee-based company, previously called Emdeon, operates the largest financial and administration information exchange in the U.S. for health care providers, payers and patients.
And Cecil is always looking for talent. Indeed, the explosive growth in technology within the health care industry in the past few years has most general counsel continually recruiting. Cecil has about 100 lawyers in her department now, but says she is steadily hiring two or three new attorneys a month. “We’ll probably top out around 120,” she says.
But she has competition. As more major companies—like Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., International Business Machines Corp., Walmart Inc. and even United Parcel Service—move into the health care space, the demand for health tech attorneys rises. Nancy Reiner, a managing director at legal placement firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, notes that the health care industry is the largest employer in the United States, and there is always fierce competition for the top attorneys.