Health care staffing has been relatively consistent for a long time. There are the typical ebbs and flows such as the nursing shortage that occurred a few years ago putting enormous pressure on recruiters and HR departments to find professionals.
Today allied health professionals are certainly in demand like never before, but that was predictable as we knew an aging baby boomer population would require more of these types of services.
Part of the reason for this predictability is that while patient demographics may change, the delivery of care did not. That is no longer the case.
Today, the role of technology in health care, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the rise of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) – just to name a few – will significantly alter how health care is delivered and how HR professionals within health care organizations will prepare for the changing tides.
How Will Technology Impact the Future Workforce?
As reimbursements decline and the cost of labor increases, health care organizations are already moving towards greater automation in their practices. Employees will now need a different type comfort level with technology as telehealth, handheld devices and even robots become commonplace in the care environment. Low skill entry level positions may no longer exist while the need for robotic assistants may increase.
Electronic medical records, barcodes at bedside, and patient portals will all involve a collaboration between IT professionals and front line caregivers. Your HR team will have to become fluent in a new language of care delivery and what skills are needed to ensure your organization remains on the cutting edge and can attract talented and experienced individuals.
Where Care is Delivered Will Shift
There are going to be fewer incentives to keep patients in the hospital. Moreover, once patients are discharged there will be enormous incentives to keep them from being readmitted for the same condition. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have already begun imposing penalties for 30 day readmission rates for patients diagnosed with heart failure.
Because it is simply less expensive to treat a patient outside of the hospital, reimbursements are shifting to encouraging outpatient and home based care and we are seeing the rise of wellness centers and urgent care centers cropping up in communities and national drug store chains are also getting into the mix.
What this means for recruiters and health care HR professionals is that there will be a larger focus on other individuals who will deliver care in multiple settings, such as nurses, social workers, physician assistants, etc. We are also seeing a shift away from simply treating diseases to helping patients create healthier lifestyles and properly managing chronic illnesses. Physicians will play less of a role while organizations may be looking for nutritional counselors, diabetic counselors, and even midwives to visit new mothers, etc.
A Patient Advocate is another newly created position that many healthcare organizations are searching for to help patients navigate an often complex and confusing processes. Not only does this improve the patient experience, but it helps to increase reimbursements as Advocates can help patients apply for benefits of which they may not be aware.
The Role of HR in Training and Education
Recruiting great people is only one responsibility of a successful HR department. Another and perhaps even more important role will be to offer the necessary training and education to existing staff to not only learn new skills but improve exisiting ones.
While technology demands will continue to be an important area of focus, health care organizations will see an increased need to train and develop the soft skills of their workforce. It will be through these skills that workers will be better able to communicate with patients and family members, reduce preventable mistakes through better quality assurance and of course learning to operate in what will be more of a collaborative care delivery model.
Understanding where your organization is in this changing care delivery model can be invaluable in helping you prepare to meet your staffing needs in these newly created roles. Do you foresee other challenges in health care staffing? Share your experiences with us.
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