6 Factors Shaping the Future of Healthcare

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This past year, our annual user conference — Talent Symposium, kicked-off with an eye-opening keynote address from our CEO Peter Segall on the future of healthcare. In his presentation, Peter encouraged industry leaders to embrace the future of the country’s healthcare system by discussing the major forces of change impacting healthcare such as the consumerization of medicine, technology evolution, and the shift from a transactional to wellness model of care. “Like it or not, the industry is experiencing fundamental change,” says Peter. “And you can be part of the transformation.”

Talent Symposium attendees said that the presentation delivered “a wealth of information,” and “[they] loved the ideas and information exchanged!” Due to the overwhelmingly positive response, we wanted to take a deeper dive into just what Peter had to say. Here are the six major factors driving healthcare from a transactional industry to a wellness model:

1. Costs

With the Affordable Care Act in place, more than half of the 40 million previously  uninsured Americans have affordable access to healthcare — resulting in greater demands for healthcare providers. The rising cost of U.S. healthcare is a significant factor driving change, with Americans projected to spend $3 trillion on healthcare this year. The United States spends more than any other developed country in the world on healthcare.  “We are the only developed country in the world that does not have some flavor of a single-payer model, and we have a fairly strong lack of transparency of pricing in this country,” said Peter.

2. An Aging Population

According to the Pew Research Center, there are 79 million baby boomers, which is estimated to account for 26 percent of the population of the United States. These 79 million people are expected to live longer than any previous generation, with many of them needing continuing medical care for the rest of their lives. A report published by the University of Albany’s Center for Health Workforce Studies shows that as people age, they use a disproportionately large share of healthcare services. A larger population of all ages also translates into a greater demand for healthcare providers.

In 2010, the population of people age 65 or older was 39.4 million; fast forward 10 years to 2020, and that number could rise to 53.2 million. It’s been forecasted that by 2020, there will be 3 million jobs in nursing and senior care alone, compared to only 2.4 million today. So, what does this all mean? Well, healthcare talent management professionals will continue to battle head-to-head with their peers in the “war for talent.”  “As a result, the biggest growth areas for employment will be home health aides, geriatric nurses, physical therapists and similar jobs,” said Peter.

3. Changing Relationships

Consumerism in the healthcare industry is an inescapable growing trend. In fact, a study from Wolters Kluwer Health shows that a whopping 86% of consumers believe proactivity on their part is critical in ensuring high quality care and outcomes. Patients are increasingly taking an active role in their care experience and are evermore empowered to choose their own care alternatives. “Patients are becoming more like consumers due to the decreasing levels of direct contact with medical professionals,” Peter said. Patients can order refills, schedule appointments, consult with their primary care physicians, and more, all through online patient portals.” This growing connection to technology will likely increase demand for medical assistants, medical secretaries, and IT staff.

4. Drugstore Clinics

The United States currently has about 1,600 small clinics in drugstores, such as CVS and Walgreens, and that number is projected to increase to 3,000 in the next five years. These clinics provide a growing number of services, treating sprains and shingles, administering pregnancy tests, doing diabetes monitoring, and much more. “I was talking to a VP of HR about a month ago, and she was telling me that she is directly competing for nurse practitioners against CVS and Walgreens in her community,” said Peter. “It’s a direct competitive threat for the labor pool, and it’s only going to increase over time.”

5. Technology

Growing advances in medical technology (i.e. brain implants controlling epileptic seizures, colonoscopies done with a pill camera, and medical staff remotely monitoring a patients’ vital signs) will significantly impact healthcare recruitment and employee education and training due to the specific skill-sets needed to carryout these advanced methods of care delivery. And technology us only going to continue to evolve.

6. Opposing Models

The current fee-for-service model is in direct conflict with the growing patient-centered, or population wellness, model. “With one, you get more money for more tests, more procedures, more admissions; the other, you get more money for keeping people out of the hospital, getting tests, procedures, and so forth,” Segall said. “They are in direct opposition to each other, and the CFOs are trying to create this balancing act.” But the general consensus, he said, is that in five to 10 years, the balance will reverse dramatically, across the board.

“We are moving from a transactional model to a wellness model, and we can’t stop it,” said Peter, adding that while the Affordable Care Act is behind some of these changes, in general it has nothing to do with them. “The insurance companies, which are a major payer today of our salaries, were forcing provider organizations into bundled payments or population management even before the Affordable Care Act, and it’s continuing to happen today.” The future model will transform hiring in healthcare, with changes in existing jobs, substantial increases in the need for certain jobs, and additions of emerging jobs such as population health navigators and data analysts.

Strong employee professional development programs, the transformation of learning and performance management, and the optimization of processes are key areas where healthcare providers make a difference.  Perhaps the most important focus area and where healthcare talent management professionals can have a tremendous impact is in employee engagement by acting on the results of their employee engagement surveys. It’s up to talent management professionals to develop future leaders who have the right healthcare competencies for the new wellness-based model of healthcare – people who have clear visions, are innovative and strategic, communicate well, and are persuasive and inspirational. These attributes and competencies should exist throughout the healthcare organization.  If healthcare providers can transform their organizations to fit the wellness model, Peter affirms, “beautiful things will happen.”

If you weren’t able to attend 2014 Talent Symposium—The Annual HealthcareSource User Conference, and want hear more about what Peter has to say, watch a recording of Peter’s presentation on our YouTube Channel

About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.