Healthcare workforce planning meets multiple challenges, like evolving illnesses, aging population, and disbalance between the quality supply (medical personnel) and demand (patients).
Also, healthcare providers must comply with local regulations, data privacy concerns, digitalization, and other external factors.
This post will discover common healthcare workforce planning challenges and success cases from companies and government organizations. Keep on reading!
1. Talent shortage
The SHRM survey reveals disappointing statistics. The healthcare industry is one of the most recruitment-challenged spheres, where almost 60% of recruiters report a low number of applicants.
For example, the most in-demand jobs in the US include medical assistants, sonographers, physical therapist assistants, and respiratory therapists. The latter specialization has been gaining popularity due to COVID-19 spread and patients that require breathing treatment.
To evaluate and prevent talent shortage, organizations must focus on strategic workforce planning and activities like diversity recruitment and workforce upskilling.
Consider this example of a workforce planning framework to meet the challenge of talent shortage and skill gaps in place:
1. Research of the current state. Research of the “as is” state helps organizations assess their current situation with workforce skill gaps, transferable skills that could help employees switch job roles, employee needs, and expectations.
2. Research of the external market. External job market trends, talent market analysis, competitor benchmarking, and disrupting technologies that shift the health sector are the baseline for developing future operating models.
3. Building the future-proof organization. Analysis of the internal talent marketplace and outside job market helps organizations define future jobs, skill sets and optimize talent acquisition pipelines.
The Deloitte’s report Time to care. Securing a future for the hospital workforce in Europe illustrates the activities that influence the availability of health care professionals:
For example, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London streamlined their temporary staff processes with the Patchwork (formerly LocumTap) platform that provides healthcare team rostering based on their skills, not just work titles. This experiment led to quality workforce planning with a staff utilization rate increase from 35% to 90%.
2. Meeting the future workforce needs
The increasing number of millennials in the health sector expects general perks and bonuses like flexibility in their working schedules, specific rewards, incentivization, and so on.
Other typical healthcare workforce challenges that employees face and would like to improve include:
- Low wages for healthcare support workers. The healthcare support workers are mainly represented by orderlies, home health aides, and doctor assistants. A recent study in the US shows that this category is heavily underpaid with only $13.48 per hour median pay, which leads to an inevitable shortage of essential healthcare workers. For example, the report by Mercer states that by 2025, the US healthcare system will lack up to 446.300 home health aides.
- Inability to advance their career. Low wages, high training costs, and lack of paid apprenticeships create barriers to career advancement.
- Lack of future-ready skills. Data literacy; soft skills like time management, decision making, communication; and hard skills like healthcare system skills and multidisciplinary literacy are gaining traction. This tendency is caused by factors like the COVID-19 pandemic, digitalization, patient empowerment, and aging sociality.
One of the successful examples of meeting the healthcare workforce needs is the international Magnet Recognition Program for nurses. The program provides nursing staff with the roadmap to providing quality patient care and improving patient relations at the healthcare organization. Healthcare providers that participate in this program, outline significant improvements in patient mortality (4,6% drop in cases) and better patient experience.
3. Disruptive technologies that replace traditional healthcare approach and treatment methods
Lately, we’ve been seeing the adoption of state-of-the-art technologies like AI and machine learning to improve diagnostics, support clinical decisions, and boost the self-care and wellness of patients. That’s why basic digital skills and data analysis, and data science are the top in-demand skills in the healthcare industry.
Also, health tech doesn’t aim to replace certain professions. In fact, it aims to streamline routine processes like patient administration, correct diagnosis, and illness prevention.
For instance, The John Hopkins University demonstrates future readiness by launching a hospital control center that utilizes predictive analysis to manage patients flows and improve service accessibility. One of the critical problems was the management of patients that come from other hospitals. As a result, the system improved the speed of bed assignment by 30% and decreased the time of pick up of patients from other hospitals by 63 minutes.
4. Complicated training and knowledge transfer for newcomers
There are certain blockers in the health sector that prevent employees from proper training and education, like:
- Unpredictable working schedule that makes it impossible to organize learning activities outside work.
- High training costs.
- Lack of work-based training that would allow healthcare workers to maintain their work and study in parallel.
- No prior learning or experience of healthcare support workers.
- Lengthy training that lasts for one year on average.
As a possible solution to these challenges, organizations could take a proactive approach and invest in their employee development with:
- Partnership through public health departments and educational institutions. For example, The Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter School in Providence, USA, allows their students to complete nurse courses and get a college-level degree while studying at high school. Such program accelerates the transition of hard skills and getting first job without significant time investments.
- Grants, scholarships, tuition reimbursement, etc.
- Credit for prior learning and working experience. Recognition of the past experience advances learning paths and improves learning accessibility.
- Adult learning support. In this case, organizations provide services like childcare to enable their adult employees educate and keep work-life balance.
The key issues in the healthcare industry concern the aging population, increasing demand for certain medical professions, and digitalization of administrative processes and patient diagnosis. That’s why, to prepare for the future of work and improve patient outcomes, HR in the health sector must step in with innovative approaches.
Here at HRForecast, we’ve helped organizations from the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries gain transparency into global talent market skills, improve diversity in place, and more. Let’s see how we can future-proof your workforce with our solutions – contact us, and we’ll get back to you promptly.