What 2013 Holds for the Healthcare Workforce

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

January 23, 2013 - Healthcare remains a dynamic and growing industry, with health reform and an aging population expected to increase demands for care while reductions in reimbursement put the squeeze on hospitals and other providers.

What 2013 Holds for the Healthcare Workforce
Karen Fuller, RN, BS, BC, PMP, expects more opportunities for people to provide preventive services and rehabilitative care.

“As a health system, we have to innovative and be savvy,” said Karen Fuller, RN, BS, BC, PMP, a principal at CSC’s Health Delivery Group in Sarasota, Fla. “We are looking at trying to provide effective care, not just a lot of care.”

Fuller expects opportunities for a wide range of healthcare workers as new patients seek care and the industry realigns.

Jim Gibson, founder and president of Gibson Consultants in Ridgefield, Conn., said he expects the demand for healthcare workers in 2013 probably won’t look much different from 2012; however, the mix of these jobs will continue to change.

What 2013 Holds for the Healthcare Workforce
Jim Gibson expects the demand for healthcare workers to remain about the same as in 2012.

“Hospitals, health systems and payors are in varying degrees of survival mode, as they will be for the next few years,” Gibson said. “They, especially hospitals and health systems, will be reluctant to eliminate employees, even faced with potential reimbursement cuts. Rather, they will be inclined to redeploy these human assets to the newly created areas of need resulting from the new business model. Of course, this also presents career opportunities for those interested in embracing the future and directing their own redeployment.”

Alan Portela, CEO of AirStrip Technologies, a mobile medical application developer, also expects a realignment of the healthcare labor force.

“Instead of layoffs on the hospital side, health systems need to reallocate and redeploy those employees into new roles--a good thing for the economy overall,” Portela said.


Information technology vendors will continue to seek out clinicians to help with implementation; but as the frenzy to switch to electronic medical records could slow down in 2013, Gibson believes the shortage of skilled health IT professionals to start up the systems will also subside.

On the other hand, Gibson anticipates there will be a “premium on anyone who has the ability to analyze and interpret data. Clinical, financial and administrative data will be the foundation for decision-making in the new healthcare model.”

Gibson also anticipated “continued strong demand for people trained in, or willing to get trained in, the many aspects of adopting and implementing ICD-10 across the organization.”

Changes in care

The need for people skilled at caring for others will grow. Because of the additional 32 million people expected to have medical insurance coverage, starting in 2014, and the wave of older adults, Fuller anticipated an increase in employment for everyone from diagnostic imaging and laboratory workers to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to rehabilitation professionals, registered nurses and nursing assistants.

“It’s all about where care will be provided and the shift in that,” Fuller said.

Additionally, she said, more focus will be placed on prevention, patient engagement and coordination of care.

“With our primary-care shortage and focus on readmissions and population health, we’re going to need to position someone between the patient and the physician to keep patients engaged in their care,” Portela said. “Enter the case manager, and enter mobility--because hospitals are going to need to implement new formulas for taking better care of patients outside of the hospital.”

Accountable care organizations (ACOs) also will create opportunities for healthcare workers.

“As provider-based ACOs and similar risk-bearing entities get formed, they will take on functions previously alien to them and more akin to traditional payor activities,” Gibson said. “These include new approaches to care management and coordination of care, as well as implementation of new business platforms required to assume these payor-like responsibilities. New types of jobs will be created as a result.”

Privacy and confidentiality

Changes also have occurred to requirements of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Standards, including new requirements under the HITECH provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and state-imposed medical privacy laws, said attorney Dianne Bourque, a member at the law firm Mintz Levin in Boston.

What 2013 Holds for the Healthcare Workforce
Dianne Bourque said healthcare workers will need to learn about new HIPAA provisions.

In addition to mandating that clinicians follow the standards, the law now requires associated business entities, such as IT professionals and consultants, to do so as well. Those in a position to collaborate with outside firms must remain cognizant of this rule. 

“Healthcare workers will have to be sure now that when they hire a business associate they do their diligence and hire someone who is compliant and has implemented everything required,” Bourque said.

HITECH also now requires providers to report breaches to the patient, the government and, depending on the severity, the media. And if the provider reports late, it is out of compliance with the rule.

“It is critical healthcare workers keep their eyes open and respond immediately if they see anything that seems like a breach, even if they aren’t sure,” Bourque said.

Patients also now have a right to an electronic copy of their health information, and more of it is available.

The delivery of healthcare remains in flux. There are exciting opportunities and challenges ahead for those committed to the field.

“The healthcare system is going through radical transformation, but it will take time to unfold,” Gibson said. “We expect 2013 will largely be a continuation of 2012: change that is closer to evolutionary than revolutionary.”

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