Healthcare HR Week 2020: What’s Ahead for Healthcare HR in the Coming Decade?

Marketing Manager

Healthcare HR professionals face sweeping changes in medical care delivery, evolving technology standards, staff shortages and shifting workforce demographics. Additionally, the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brings its own set of challenges for the immediate future.

HR professionals need to be equipped to lead their organization through these challenges. “Strong leadership will offer an advantage, as will organizational investment in digital initiatives to help staff navigate the future of work,” says Nanne Finis, Chief Nurse Executive at Kronos, which provides workforce management software. “Opportunities remain endless for healthcare organizations that can identify, create and capture value in environments of uncertainty.”

The first Healthcare HR Week of the new decade signals the opportunity to examine how human resources has evolved over the past decade and what’s ahead for healthcare HR in the next ten years. Here are the three significant changes to healthcare HR that you need to address. 

Workforce Management Will Be Priority No. 1

A commitment to high-quality patient care is paramount for healthcare organizations; and that starts with your workforce.

“In any setting, the future of work in healthcare is about improved efficiency to strengthen employee engagement and patient outcomes,” says Finis. For HR professionals, the looming staff shortages mean that competing for candidates with the skills and experience needed to provide the best possible patient care will be even more difficult. 

Employers will need to adapt rapidly to changing employee needs. As baby boomers age out of the workforce at a record pace, says Jeremy Sadlier, Director of ASHHRA Initiatives at American Hospital Association, they’re being replaced with younger generations with different needs. Employee experience, new benefits options and a mission-driven approach to work will be key.

Labor Options Will Become More Flexible 

The next 10 years bring an acceleration of new workforce labor models in healthcare. "As we enter a new decade, several factors will lead to the emergence of labor-based operating models, inviting a series of major staffing changes across healthcare settings,” says Finis. “For instance, as inpatient admissions in the typical hospital decline and as ambulatory, post-acute, and home care volumes begin a steady incline, many organizations will be challenged to consider how to adjust staffing and manage a workforce outside of their brick and mortar facilities.” 

Remote work options are expanding, even in healthcare, says Sadlier. During viral events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, organizations are implementing remote work to ensure the safety of their staff and communities. “In many roles, it's still not something that makes sense. But where it can be applied, flexible work options, flexible hours and remote work is becoming the norm.” Telemedicine options, flexible scheduling through mobile apps, and increased preventative care services will all enable new workforce labor management options. 

Digital Competencies Will Shape Healthcare

Healthcare professionals will increasingly need a range of digital competencies, such as data management, digital readiness and predictive analytics. 

Many of these people will come from industries outside of healthcare. “In 2020, we will see very new entrants stepping into the management of hospitals – leaders who will require unique supply chain skills and other digital competencies to complement their experience in traditional healthcare,” says Finis. “Equipping these leaders with future technologies, like automation and artificial intelligence, will have a substantial impact on workforce productivity – a particularly important focus as cost transparency, process efficiencies, and collaboration become more critical." 

Data analytics will be an increasingly crucial skill for healthcare organizations. “Data analytics creates such a wealth of opportunity when it comes to understanding the trends within your own organization,” says Sadlier. Forward-looking organizations are hiring individuals with data analytics skills to create robust HR dashboards to help organizations make changes based on vacancy rates, turnover, labor costs, staffing needs and a host of other factors, he says. Those new positions will provide opportunities for people with key digital competencies to move into healthcare HR.

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