Strategies for a Brave New World

March 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

Via Minnesota 2020

Despite our current economic climate, with its historic unemployment numbers, studies are showing that there will be a workforce shortage in healthcare within the next 5 – 10 years.  This conclusion has been drawn from multiple reports issued from different investigative committees – including committees formed by the American Hospital Association and the National Academies – Institute of Medicine.  So while it’s hard to think of any sector right now wanting for jobs – that appears to be the direction in which healthcare is heading.

One of the key issues exacerbating the declining worker population is the impending retirement of around 78 million members of the “Baby Boomer” generation.  As National Academies points out, currently there is one physician trained in geriatric medicine for every 2,500 older Americans.  The average 75 year-old American has three chronic conditions and uses at least four prescription medications.  As this demographic expands (as Baby Boomers age), this will mean an increase in patients who need more care, more attention and more workers.

What are solutions to this problem?  How can health professionals ensure that this steep decline in workers won’t translate into a lack of care for patients or added stress on an already overextended workforce?  And how do Health IT products – like the mTuitive OpNote – help physicians and facilities improve their workflows and organizations to cope with this transition?

Tactics for Workforce Shortage via Taleo Talent Management Solutions

In addition to personal changes in lifestyle and mentality – such as adopting more preventative care measures in order to minimize the urgency and commonality of chronic conditions – the American Hospital Association has also outlined Ten Tips on How to Deal with Workforce Shortage.  A summary of the ten tips can be found on Healthcare IT News – but here are the parts that we have found pertinent to the OpNote:

1.  A. In a tight labor market, the keys to maintaining an adequate workforce by number and skill are:

  • Redesigning work processes and introducing new technologies to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and employee satisfaction,

C. To help address the workforce needs of hospitals, the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development should develop an initiative – e.g., template, seminar, or webinar – demonstrating how to integrate workforce strategies in the hospital’s overall strategic, business, and service-line plans.

2. Hospitals need to develop new work models that increase efficiency, workforce satisfaction, and patient outcomes. Proven process improvement strategies developed by firms outside of health care may expedite efforts to improve performance.


At mTuitive, as we develop OpNote, we’re working with surgeons who understand that change is coming and needs to come.  We have thought for a long time now that healthcare providers can improve the efficiencies of current workflows, but this grim vision of the future of healthcare workforce emboldens that belief and makes such improvements imperative to the industry.  By speeding up the reporting and billing processes – through dictation elimination, inclusion of codes in the postoperative report and immediate sign out for the surgeon – we believe the OpNote redesigns “work processes” and is a new technology that will “increase efficiency, effectiveness, and employee satisfaction.”

OpNote is one of the many solutions in Health IT that are being offered to facilities that are designed to streamline a physician’s routine and will allow health professionals to maximize the (increasingly) limited time they have to spend with patients.  Almost all of these solutions (including OpNote) incorporate synoptic reporting (or structured data) into their user interfaces – creating easily tracked points of data to evaluate established quality indicators, enforce standardization of care and generate best practices to ensure the most positive of patient outcomes.  By improving the process of reporting on these items, the information captured will be more specific and revelatory to whatever results health workers are seeking to extrapolate from any such reports.

It’s important to remember that this is more about long-term strategy than it is about offering any sort of instant solution.  Instituting any (or all) of the proposed changes are meant to change the needs, workflows and responsibilities of health facilities and health professionals from an organizational perspective.  It will take a while for these recommended changes to be fully integrated into our current systems and for people to see the effects they will have on the workforce.

Obviously expediting the workflow, strengthening reporting and improving guidelines for better patient outcomes are only parts of the solution to the problem of a rapidly depleting healthcare workforce.  In order to combat the scarcity of healthcare professionals there must also be institutional changes in medical schools, hiring practices and the mindset of patients to increase home and community based healthcare.

But the first step in any problem is recognizing the obstacles we are facing and seeing what will be effected by those obstacles.  Many organizations have identified the problematic issues in the current healthcare culture.  Now comes the hard work of improving an entire industry that needs to implement these improvements before it becomes apparent just how badly they are needed.


Entry filed under: General, Synoptic Reporting. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Introducing the OpNote Consultants – Dr. Seth Goldberg Introducing the OpNote Consultants: Carl Brown, MD, MSc, FRCSC

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Disclosure Statement - The authors of this blog are paid employees of mTuitive Inc. and are compensated for their services.

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