Finding and keeping talent remains top risk in healthcare

Talent acquisition and retention remains the biggest risk to health industry companies, according to 82% of industry executives responding to PwC’s August 2023 Pulse Survey.

The healthcare industry continues to face a talent crisis, with severe clinical workforce shortages, increased patient demand, and inflationary pressures. The healthcare system’s waste and redundancy also create resource demand.  At the same time, PwC’s recent Behind the numbers 2024 report found these economic forces are expected to contribute to a 7% increase in medical costs for 2024.

To attract and retain talent, healthcare executives are rethinking their traditional workforce and business models and investing  in technology and innovation. Some are even investing in their own schools for clinical staff training and development. Building the talent pipeline, tailoring benefits, redefining the care team and model, and setting an aggressive digital- and automation-led agenda to improve productivity are useful strategies.  

Better patient care automation can, for example, enable nurses to spend more time with patients and less time on administrative or lower priority tasks. New artificial intelligence and digital approaches to delivering care such as telemedicine can require fewer on-site resources. Tech-led collaborations can serve as sources of innovation, enabling better clinician staffing as well as diagnosing and treating patients.

They survey was conducted between August 1 and August 8, 2023 with 609 US executives across six public and private industries. Key findings across all industries include:

  • Recessionary concerns are easing. Just 17% of business executives strongly agree that there will be a recession in the next six months, a drop from 35% in October 2022.
  • Business risks are less pronounced. Executives still point to the same risks as in 2022 (and rank them in roughly the same order): more frequent and severe cyber-attacks, an uncertain economy and talent acquisition. But a smaller share of executives cites these as direct threats to their business.  
  • Executives are far more likely to invest in future growth rather than hunker down. More than a quarter (27%) want to embed new technologies into their business model, and 24% are focused on new revenue streams — more than any other strategic priority.
  • Tech implementation remains a key challenge to transforming. Companies are willing to make the upfront investment, but they struggle to capture value from new tech once it’s in place. The vast majority (88%) say achieving measurable value from new technology is a challenge, followed by updating their operating model to support their new vision (85%), covering the cost of new technology (85%) and training the workforce (84%) on new tech. 
  • Executives are largely happy with their current workforce strategy. Nearly three-fourths (74%) say they can attract and retain the talent they need. Similarly, 74% say they have the right culture in place for reinvention. 
  • Half of executives cite climate change as a risk to their business. Only 19% see it as a serious threat, down from 23% in 2022. Companies are more likely to comply with sustainability reporting disclosures and SEC requirements, but only 23% are planning for climate-related disruptions.

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