Technology and the workforce of the future

The future of work in health care

The future of work is poised to bring better, more fulfilling jobs to health care—if provider organizations adapt fast enough.

The future is here

Rapidly evolving digital technology is driving increased automation, affecting the proximity of where work is performed, and giving rise to new and open talent models.

With so much change in the air, many provider organizations are understandably apprehensive about how to grapple with such exponential change and its implications on where, how, and when work gets done.

Interestingly, while 69 percent of US health care providers consider the augmented workforce to be an important trend, only 33 percent feel the same way about robotics, cognitive computing, and artificial intelligence.1 What these providers may not appreciate is that all these areas are part of the same wave of change.

The organizations that fail to fuse talent and health care workforce technology risk missing out on great leaps in efficiency and engagement. From a health care perspective, it can mean a dispirited workforce with growing nursing shortages and high levels of burnout, a reduced ability to attract and retain highly skilled clinicians and non-clinicians, a reduction in the quality of care, and a loss of position as a patient’s provider of choice.

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The future of work in health care

Plenty of technology. Rapid change. Workforce uncertainty. And no shortage of well-entrenched “ways we’ve always done things.” Few industries match this description better than health care.

Although 100 percent of health care providers surveyed in the 2017 Deloitte Human Capital Trends plan to make significant progress in adopting cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the next three to five years, and 33 percent say they consider it a priority to train employees so they can work side by side with robots and AI, none have made significant progress in adopting these technologies.2

One reason for this may be that many leaders of health care provider organizations anticipate that the scale and pace of change will overwhelm their workforce and compound current challenges, such as a short supply of nurses and a burned out physician population.

Today’s hospital systems are asking, “How can we hire and retain more nurses to combat our labor shortage?” The question they should ask instead is, “How can we augment nursing roles so that high-performing nurses wouldn’t want to work anyplace else?”

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Provider organizations will need to assess specific jobs and workflows, evaluating the mix of factors needed to operate those jobs and workflows and how they can be re-envisioned by employing enabling technologies and new talent models.

The future of provider organization professions

Strategically adopting technologies can improve work from a clinician’s perspective by reducing administrative tasks, giving them more time with patients and extending their reach.

Diagnostic radiology is a prime area for change because it is plagued by burnout and turnover, is technological at its foundation, has a high volume of repetitive activities, and often does not require the radiologist to be at the same location as the patient.

Here are some example pain points that may be ripe for a health care workforce technology change from a radiologist’s point of view:

  • Radiological interpretation
  • Limited autonomy and uneven work distribution
  • Declining reimbursements and limited patient interaction

Nurses, too, have a lot to gain. Technological disruptors, like AI, robotics, and cognitive technologies, are augmenting the role of the nurse, enabling nurses to become more efficient. This allows nurses to redirect their time towards engaging and educating patients and families, driving quality and safety, and an delivering exceptional patient experience.

Here are some example pain points that may be ripe for change from a nurse’s point of view:

  • Nursing assessments
  • Order implementation
  • Patient education
  • Documentation
  • Location

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​Explore more insights about the workforce of the future.

The path forward

In technological terms, the future is already here. But in many provider organizations, the plan for working in that future is still on the drawing board.

As each provider organization seeks to map out its own workforce strategy, it needs to adopt an exponential mindset: Each part of the workforce will evolve not along a single linear path, but in response to a collection of forces.

Rather than fearing this wave of change as an overwhelming challenge, provider organizations should proactively seek out the opportunities for augmentation and automation in clinical workflows–and pinpoint where both clinicians and patients will benefit from new technologies, crowdsourced talent, and expanded locations where care is delivered.

Ready to get started? Read more about The future of work in health care.

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