Key Challenges to National Workforce Modeling
Many changes are coming that will impact health care workforce demand, with currently unclear implications on health care workforce:
Many of the usual items made the list: more personalized medicine, payment reform, aging population, and team-based care. The BPC also cited some less common changes, like publicly transparent error reporting and outcome data on individual professionals and direct consumer access to bio-monitoring and self-help tests. It is important to note from the reports that demand estimates are based on historic utilization patterns that do not include these possible “future state” changes in demand and subsequent workforce needs.
Accurately examining workforce supply is complicated by a myriad of state licensing and scope of practice requirements. Moreover, some professions have a great deal of supply uncertainty due to their flexible educational options. Clinical education shortages and faculty shortages adds another layer of complexity to workforce supply.
Additionally, as payment reform and educational costs change, a shifting cost-benefit analysis may change decision-making by students to enter health professions. Once a student makes a decision, there can be lags of a decade or more in the supply of health professionals after their first entry into education and training.
Key Next Steps:
Modernizing Health Care Workforce Planning
Given these challenges, a modern approach to workforce planning is needed that can help answer specific questions regarding what types and numbers of health care professionals will be needed in the future.
Understanding Key Variables to Workforce Modeling
Three main variables need to be addressed to develop a comprehensive health care workforce projection model.
Population size with demographic and regional data
Disease burdens within society and skills needed to treat them
Utilization rates for health care services for various disease states across professions and settings
Additionally, key adjustment factors need to be developed to accurately account for changes in health care demand and supply, including financial incentive changes, new practice patterns and settings, consumer preferences, and regulatory, licensing, and education changes.
For example, disruptive technologies and new treatment methods that increase productivity and efficiency could radically reduce – or increase – costs. Accounting for these developments is an essential part of planning for the future.
Developing Core Measures and Analytics
Solution: A Shared Demand Projection Model
The Michigan Health Council is continually working to develop new innovations that make Michigan’s health care workforce better for employers, professionals, and – most importantly – patients and families.
If you have questions or comments about Michigan’s health care workforce, be sure to contact the Michigan Health Council.