How hospital workforces are transforming

Four key factors are driving changes in the healthcare workforce as the aging U.S. population continues to grow, requiring more care from fewer, younger workers, according to a November report published by the American Hospital Association.

Four things to know:

1. Traditional staffing models need to be modernized. In today's healthcare environment, it takes a village to manage patient care. Many units now lack stable core teams of providers, and it is unlikely that staffing levels will increase sufficiently to return to previous practice, according to the AHA. Providers must determine better ways to support licensed and nonlicensed professionals at the bedside, in the lab and throughout the organization to achieve desired goals without overburdening staff. Effective unit-level leaders also will rely more heavily on a team approach.

2. Technology continues to be a game changer. Technology such as telehealth, virtual nursing and artificial intelligence is playing a growing role in healthcare, both clinically and administratively. AI is also playing a bigger role across all aspects of healthcare, including the workforce, with nearly half of healthcare executives reporting that their health systems are using AI to tackle workforce challenges, such as using AI to create clinical notes or relying on robots to transport medications, according to the AHA. Investment in technology is critical but requires careful consideration of value and potential outcomes, given the ongoing financial pressures facing hospitals and health systems. Regular telehealth usage is expected to climb back toward the pandemic highs of 70% and providers anticipate virtual consultations to become more widely adopted in disciplines beyond primary care and behavioral health, according to the report.

3. Care is moving beyond hospital walls. Providing ambulatory, community-based and at-home care has multiple benefits, including reduced cost, greater convenience and wide access to care, all of which improves health equity, according to the AHA. Gartner, a business management consultant, projects that by 2025, 40% of healthcare providers will shift 20% of hospital beds to patients' homes through digitally enabled hospital-at-home services like remote patient monitoring and AI.

4. Hybrid workforce policies are gaining traction. Healthcare has lagged other industries in adopting hybrid work models, but that is changing. More providers are mixing in-person, hybrid and remote models primarily for administrative work —- but also for care delivery. More than three-quarters of the medical practices that adopted hybrid or remote care delivery models during the pandemic found them so beneficial to productivity and employee morale that they continue to use them, according to the report. 

Click here for more details on the report.

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