Thursday, September 29, 2011

I have recently been reviewing some Health Human Resource (HHR) planning documents created by the organization I work for. In them they paint a very bleak future for having enough supply (clinicians, beds) to meet the demands (growing population, particularly among seniors).
Reasonable projects show that we simply will not be graduating enough clinicians from our colleges and universities to replace our aging workforce. The problem is not just local either, so we cannot outsource our solution by stealing clinicians from other jurisdictions.

But when I reviewed the projections for rehabilitation professionals – PTs and OTs in particular – I found that the projections were missing a huge factor. The projections for demands were based on continued population growth… about 2.5% annually. But what was not factored in was that the growth in the population of persons over 65 years of age will be in the neighborhood of 20-30% over the next 5 years. Seniors are the biggest recipients of services from rehabilitation professionals.

So, which a shortfall of PT over the next fives years do to the mismatch of supply and demand were projected to be about 100 clinicians, or about 1/6 of the total current supply, the actual needs on the demand side could theoretically double. We very likely will be short 300-500 clinicians!

It then becomes imperative that we try to make the best use of our existing clinicians, and this means management needs to start stepping up to the plate to engage staff and to truly implement changes that are meaningful.

Oh, yeah,… and it is going to cost a lot of money.

Right now health services managers are almost completely clueless as to what benefit allied health clinicians provide to better health outcomes. There is no need to worry whether staff are busy enough… there is far more work for clinicians to do than they can accomplish already. What they need to worry about is whether the organization and patients are getting the best bang for the buck,… and that means they have to move away from a “productivity focus” and move to a “performance focus”.