DrFirst Healthcare Technology Blog

Current Trends in the Healthcare Workforce

May 16, 2012

perfect storm is brewing in the healthcare industry. Experienced workers are leaving the industry at a far higher rate than qualified workers are entering — and the medical industry is rapidly expanding.

Clinton Wingrove, EVP and principal consultant at Pilat HR Solutions, mentions several factors causing this shift and offers suggestions for how the storm might be averted.

According to Wingrove, it all starts with the baby boomers. The generation currently has the most experience in the healthcare field — and that experience needs to be kept or replaced.  This retreat from the workforce has increased as many healthcare practitioners who planned to work for a few more years to retired early avoiding the headache and expense of EHR and ICD-10 implementation and the new Medicare rules.

That labor market change is creating an effect.  Wingrove mentions that there is a lack of professionals and a disconcerting future, the fears surrounding the healthcare labor force go beyond cost.

The shift into the digital era within healthcare is faster than training new qualified healthcare IT professionals. On top of that, another trend that also affects other major industries is compounding the problem for healthcare.

Wingrove cites serious problems with the nation’s educational system as contributing to the shortage. “I’m convinced we’re not doing enough to drive up the caliber of the people who are exiting the educational system and [are coming] into the workforce, says Wingrove”

Even those with the talent are not being encouraged to enter healthcare IT.

And so the perfect storm has been created: a retiring workforce, a current shortage and a lack of qualified incoming talent. Wingrove says the crisis can be averted by encouraging students to go into technical fields, giving younger members of the workforce more of a voice and by convincing some of the younger members of the baby boomer generation to pass on their experience and expertise and wait a few more years before retiring.

Wingrove mentions that some compromises and mindset-shifts are also in order. Those just entering the workforce are used to having more open communication. They are more inclined to voice their opinion than prior generations.

According to Wingrove, “These employees are not merely a programmer, an analyst or a clinician. They believe they are part of a healthcare system, and that’s one of the things that are going to differentiate organizations that are successful at attracting and keeping people.

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About the Author

Irene Froehlich

Ms. Froehlich has been with DrFirst since its inception in 2000. In her role as Director of Marketing, she oversees the planning, directing, and coordinating all marketing and public relations efforts at DrFirst. Ms. Froehlich has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

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