A new report from the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center and Working Partnerships USA shows how technology is likely to impact job quality in healthcare and suggests that technological adoption may accelerate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report, titled “Technological Change in Health Care Delivery: Its Drivers and Consequences for Work and Workers,” also finds that the pandemic could provide a wind of opportunity to shift the dominant strategy for technological adoption in health care toward a “work centered” approach.
The current approach is likely to lead to increased surveillance, micro-managing, and worker deskilling, as technologies are used to cut costs. A work-centered approach would instead allow workers to have a say in how new technologies are introduced, to receive training to develop new skills, and ensure their job quality isn’t diminished.
“Technological change in health care is accelerating, putting more strain on workers as providers seek to cut costs and increase efficiency,” said Adam Seth Litwin, the report’s author and an associate professor of industrial and labor relations at Cornell University. “If business continues as normal, we could see workers stripped of rewarding tasks, alienating them from their work and suppressing job quality. But that path isn’t inevitable. If workers are brought into the fold, technological changes can increase the quality of care workers are able to provide, while driving improvements in their pay and job quality.”