Tag: healthcare workforce

Healthcare Innovation Isn’t Free

By Dov Z. Hirsch, general manager of The Immersive Health Group, a subsidiary of The Glimpse Group and founder of ContinuumXR and Martie Moore, MAOM, RN, CPHQ, clinical advisory board chair, ContinuumXR.

It’s no secret that healthcare is undergoing a transformation. One doesn’t need to be an industry insider to recognize it. A mere press release issued by Amazon can move markets like never before. Last September, Apple equipped Apple Watch 4 customers with the ability to take an ECG, a feature that AliveCor released two-years earlier through rigorous R&D with the FDA clearance of the Kardiaband. AliveCor recently pulled Kardiaband from the market. And earlier this week reports of tumult within Apple’s health team leaked to the press, citing tensions rising over differing visions for the future.

The current pace of change in healthcare has brought volatility with it. And while healthcare and volatility don’t typically mix well, the fundamentals of the market are supporting much greater tolerance for it, perhaps greater than any other time in modern history, and for good reason. Population demographics are shifting dramatically. According to Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, “within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. It will be a very long time before this trend shifts direction, if ever. As featured in a recent Washington Post article, the combined growth of the retirement population and decline in young workers is playing a central role in labor shortages seen around the country.

To understand this challenge within the context of healthcare, technology and innovation, one only need to look within the walls of any major hospital system. An aging population requires complex medical care. Complex medical care is not only expensive (especially in the U.S.) but requires providers to act and think in a multi-focal manner. After all, care is delivered by doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, family members, and countless other clinicians and caregivers. The system requires a balance of supply and demand between patients and caregivers. This need can only be met with a healthy pipeline of highly skilled, and experienced clinicians within the system (until the robots takeover that is). Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections (2016-2026), healthcare workforce demand will outpace supply by 2025.

Above and beyond the issues of quantity, the clinical workforce shortage is greatest among the highly skilled — a challenge that is less discussed but well understood by those who work within the system. As America is aging so are the providers of care who are now looking at their own retirement plans. While exciting for them, it is terrifying for the rest of the population. Think of a water leak that begins as a slow drip and turns into a steady stream of water. In short, knowledge, experience and intuitive practice is leaving our healthcare system.

Exponential Challenges, meet Exponential Solutions

The traditional methods that healthcare uses in its approach to training and education are inadequate. It is no longer acceptable for evidence-based practice to migrate into clinical practice over a span of 10 to 15 years. New providers must develop core competencies and resilience much quicker, and existing practitioners need effective ongoing professional development solutions to meet higher quality standards. Addressing this challenge isn’t easy.

Healthcare leaders are exploring innovative methods of learning, such as virtual reality (VR), that support faster adaptation of knowledge and skills into the clinical practice, standardization to reduce variation in quality, and development of muscle memory to decrease burnout and nurture resilience.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs Report, 67% of healthcare organizations will adopt VR in some capacity over the next several years. Virtual and augmented reality will transform the way in which clinicians and caregivers gain knowledge, acquire skills and practice care delivery throughout their career.

In an op-ed published last year, former Senate Majority Leader, physician and entrepreneur, Bill Frist, MD, recalls his experience as a medical student.

“See one, do one, teach one. It was the best we had at the time. But is that really the best, or safest, way to learn? Or do patients deserve more? Experience matters. Things we actually experience stay with us in a way that things we are simply told, taught, or observe do not … VR is no longer just a source of gaming entertainment. Over the past 12 months, astounding technological advances coupled with seismic shifts in our healthcare sector toward value-based care are opening the door to its effective clinical use … It holds particular promise for accelerating medical education.

VR technology is a force multiplier in transferring knowledge to practice. While traditional educational and training resources sacrifice efficacy for scalability, VR offers an affordable digital alternative that is both scalable and efficacious. And a growing body of research shows that procedural, anatomical and medical knowledge acquired during VR simulation is on par with traditional teaching and simulation lab environments. A University of Maryland study found that individuals had an 8.8% improvement overall in recall accuracy using a VR headset compared to two-dimensional platforms.

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How HIT Employee Expectations Are Changing—And What You Need to Do to Hold Onto Your Best Employees

Guest post by Ben Weber, managing director at Greythorn.

Ben Weber
Ben Weber

The pace of life has changed over the last few decades, and it’s changed absolutely everything. Now, we expect communication to be instantaneous by email and text. We expect delivery to be two-day (and free), thanks to Amazon. And increasingly, expectations about work and careers have changed, as well. The time spent at a single organization has been condensed, going from 40 years down to three, five or sometimes even less. Most people anticipate working for multiple companies over the course of their career, not to mention some may have multiple careers in the course of their working lives. Either way, this is a costly trend for employers.

That’s one reason we here at Greythorn conduct an annual survey of healthcare IT professionals: so we can understand what’s motivating them to stay, or seek out new employment. Have a look at some of our key findings and consider what this may mean for you and your team/organization. Perhaps there’s a nugget or two within that may help you ensure you’re doing everything you can to retain your top talent.

Motivation #1: A higher salary

It should come as no surprise that a higher salary can tempt someone away, even from a job they love. What might surprise you, however, is how many of your employees expect their salary to increase right now in their current roles: a full 87 percent of survey respondents said they expect at least a 3 percent increase in the next 12 months. If this expectation isn’t managed or met, the odds are good that you may start seeing some of your best employees begin to grumble.

According to our research, job security is no longer a top motivator for healthcare IT professionals. In our last survey, it slid from the top three—where it’s remained for several years—to number six. Meanwhile, 71 percent of the full-time employees who participated in our research said they’d consider joining the uncertain world of consulting—mainly, because the money’s superior. They’ve accepted that in consulting, job security is rare, and are choosing to embrace that higher degree of risk in order to capitalize on their earning potential.

So what can you do? Besides the obvious and often less feasible option of increasing everyone’s salary, you can provide transparency to your staff. Ensure they understand what’s expected of them and are accountable for delivering on your key objectives. Provide documentation to support a salary review and/or a guaranteed raise based on meeting those objectives. Explain some of the  obscured  issues going on within your hospital or health system, which may make a raise unattainable (for now), and/or why the annual bonus was potentially smaller than what they’d hoped for. Although they may be disappointed with the news you’re sharing, you’ll further a  trusted relationship—and their loyalty—with your honesty.

Motivation #2: Advancement and interesting work

Think about your top employees for a moment: What makes them great? Likely, they all share a few characteristics such as being highly motivated and satisfied by a job well done, not to mention passionate about their work. They’re probably people who thrive on the challenges that come with achievement, correct? It’s traits like these that make them valuable to your organization, and also contribute to why they’ll consider leaving it.

Of our survey respondents, nearly a third—30 percent—said they left their last job to pursue career development and advancement. An additional 11 percent said they left their last job to find more challenging and interesting work. This is a huge jump from the 3 percent who cited a new challenge the year before—a 30 percent increase year over year.

Think again about your top employees—they’re motivated by interesting work, but the longer they stay with you, the more likely it becomes that they’re losing interest if their work isn’t evolving.

They’re also motivated by achievement—so are you helping move your top employees up through the organization? If they aren’t moving within your hospital system, they may look for other routes to the top.

What can you do? Stay attentive to ensure your top staff members are motivated by and interested in their work. Communicate the path to career advancement within your organization, bi-annually at least. Whenever possible, try to get your top performers involved in new projects; do what you can to keep them excited about coming into work each day. Verbalize your appreciation for their work when they reach a goal or finish a project—even small gestures can provide a sense of achievement.

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