By: John Rossheim
Recent stories in the news about healthcare recruiting and hiring:
Will healthcare reform impact healthcare recruitment?
Hardly a week goes by without the publication of research showing that one medical specialty or another is performing too many procedures, or ordering too many tests.
The question for those of us concerned with the healthcare labor market: Will the push for evidence-based medicine and rising pressure to contain costs reduce the demand for physicians in some specialties, healthcare technologists and any number of clinical workers in between?
Let’s restate the fundamental question: Will enough unneeded tests and treatments be eliminated to significantly reduce demand for the clinicians and technicians who perform them? Answer: If the full force of evidence-based medicine under the Affordable Care Act and other healthcare reforms takes effect, then yes, demand for healthcare providers will at least grow more slowly.
If payers become more effective in denying reimbursement for unneeded care, then yes, demand for talent may soften.
Occupational therapist careers: Demanding, and in demand
What does it take to qualify for a typical position as occupational therapist? Much knowledge, and many skills and abilities, of course, but these are the top five, according to Wanted Analytics: orthotics, personal protective equipment, derricks, patient scheduling and word processing.
Occupational therapists are in such great demand that time-to-fill is currently about 47 days, placing OT positions among the more difficult professions to recruit for. And the trend is even more daunting: there were 9,400 online job postings for OTs in April, a staggering 41 percent increase over a year earlier.
What about the long term? Occupational therapy is expected to balloon by 33 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average occupation, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. That’s about 36,000 additional jobs -- never mind retirements and churn generated by a group of professionals who can change jobs about as often as they please.
One in 10 non-elderly veterans uses no health coverage
According to an analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, about 10 percent of veterans not old enough for Medicare have no health insurance and don’t use the health benefits available to them through Veterans Affairs. (Care provided by Veterans Affairs requires low contributions from enrollees; prescriptions are $9 or less; the inpatient-care copay is $10 a day or less.)
These findings underscore the difficulty of getting all Americans into any healthcare system, the need for aggressive recruitment of uninsured people who qualify for coverage, and the ongoing challenge of providing care to people who have no enduring connection to the healthcare infrastructure. For veterans, the challenge is likely to grow; the youngest veterans are less likely than their older (but pre-Medicare) comrades to have insurance or received VA health benefits.
Of course, many veterans who lack coverage, like tens of millions of Americans who have not served in the military, are using the hospital emergency room as their sole entry point to the healthcare system. That means ER clinicians will continue to be in high demand -- and often highly frustrated to be spending so much time caring for patients who present in the wrong setting.
Healthcare mergers enable large hospitals to raise rates
Mergers of hospitals with each other, and sometimes with subacute care facilities and insurers, are quashing competition and enabling greater price increases, according to a study in Health Affairs summarized by FierceHealthcare.
Smaller community hospitals usually don’t have the leverage to command these rate hikes. But “must-have” institutions – perhaps the only ones in their respective regions to offer a broad range of advanced procedures and treatments – are running up their rates, at the expense of insurers and their customers.
Critics of the Affordable Care Act might like to blame healthcare reform for these increases, but this phenomenon was already well underway when the 2010 law took effect.
How might this impact healthcare hiring outlook? The growing gap in pricing between community hospitals and medical centers will likely correlate with clinician compensation -- meaning competition for the business of the major players will only grow more aggressive.