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This is what better looks like

Updated: Apr 10


3.12.24_state of the workforce
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At this point I think we can safely say that the healthcare workforce crisis has abated, but we still have a workforce situation across the industry. This week's Union Healthcare Insight's Slides of the Week make that point abundantly clear. Reports of burnout have subsided, but still remain elevated relative to pre-pandemic levels--and that's true across the clinical workforce. Turnover also looks a lot better, but also not great. Physicians and nurses consequently have enjoyed a big jump in wages over the past few years. And don't be fooled by data showing year-over-year drops in average PCP comp; that only really shows a slight rationalization after the monumental increases of the two prior years. And overall, compensation is way up across specialities, even if some are more stratospheric than others. But the larger point is that the cost increases of the past two years are permanent. There is no going back to the cost structure of days gone by.


The upshot of all of this is and will continue to be a cascade of cost-passing from providers (medical groups, hospitals, and ambulatory services) to payers (health plans, Medicare, Medicaid) to employers, and finally to employees and customers across the entire economy (to a lesser extent). We're already seeing that this year, in long-expected hikes in provider prices and payer premiums. But here's the rub: those price increases do not match the aggregate increases in underlying costs. Not by a longshot, actually. So why isn't the industry panicking? A relatively strong economy and savvy financial stewardship are the biggest reasons. But financial advantage can only ever be temporary. Providers have to hope that cost increases stabilize for long enough to allow prices to catch up, payers have to hope that utilization will moderate, and everyone will have to hope that new technologies and care models can replace costs, accelerate revenue, or contain utilization. In short, a mix of muddling through combined with some genuinely brilliant innovation--which, let's face it, is what the healthcare industry does best.


The good news for innovators: various players across our industry are doing everything they can to make all three hopes a reality. In this week's Board Briefing we'll be discussing the state of the healthcare workforce and its evolving demands that will help retain staff and contain further cost increases (see below), plus a look at the various technologies and care models that are being rapidly deployed to address the permanent increases in labor expenses. Attendees will get the full slide-deck PDF following the presentation, and members will be able to watch the entire briefing on-demand (and download the PowerPoint slides) afterward.


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