Two reports unveiled this week by the Washington, D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center call for better use of predictive modeling to plan for the needed healthcare workforce of the future.
The reports--"The Complexities of National Health Care Workforce Planning" and "Better Health Care Worker Demand Projections: A Twenty-First Century Approach"--were developed in collaboration with Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.
Projections in the past have largely centered on the need for doctors and nurses, while many professional groups prepare their own estimates and have their own agendas, which may conflict. Preparing a national overview incorporating multiple roles, though vital, might disrupt the current workforce planning strategies of various groups, the authors say.
In addition, the transformation taking place in healthcare could have a huge effect on the workforce of the future. The use of telemedicine, clinical informatics and decision support systems could affect the number of doctors in various specialties required.
Indeed, accountable care is expected to make recruiting of physicians and other healthcare workers more difficult, according to a report from Dallas-based search organization the Medicus Firm.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed eliminating some rules deemed obsolete, including the requirement that critical-access hospitals and rural health clinics have a physician present at least once every two weeks. It said advances in telemedicine make that requirement outdated. That proposal also would relax supervision rules for nonphysicians.
A better model for workforce planning, the BPC reports say, would cover all health workers; incorporate a national, uniform minimum dataset with standard data definitions and formats; use data from multiple sources; be self-learning and self-correcting, and would integrate data in real time. It would incorporate constantly varying perspectives on underlying workforce dynamics as well as identify trends and complex relationships.
California is out in front of the push for a national database, having already created a statewide repository of healthcare workers.
In addition to calling for improved data collection efforts, BPC recommends a planning strategy that considers the impact of information technologies that help patients and providers better understand treatments, outcomes and costs, according to an announcement.
It urges funding the National Health Care Workforce Commission, which was created as part of the Affordable Care Act, but so far has no budget, and increased funding for the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.