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Strong Trends Affecting the Healthcare Industry and Its Providers

The transformation of healthcare continues, driven by demographics, the labor market, and the economics of providing care. One important trend visible across the healthcare industry is the growing effort to customize workforce development to specific needs and to learners themselves. Customization goes hand-in-hand with the growing focus on people-centered improvements in the healthcare work environment. Other concurrent challenges to which the industry is responding include growing financial pressures and the demographic challenge affecting the U.S. population. Here are some specific ways that these trends will manifest themselves: 

Improving competency and skills of clinical staff is going to become more important than ever. We are in a state of near permanent nurse shortage in some parts of the country, which means healthcare providers must do whatever it takes to keep their nurses and advance their skills. We’ll be using AI and other assessment tools to pinpoint individual earning needs, and people-friendly workplace and scheduling policies will continue to be introduced to diminish the burnout and stress that cause many nurses to leave the profession. Likewise, newly-hired nurses are going to encounter a world that is far more supportive and encouraging than their predecessors, with nurse residency programs and other innovations becoming commonplace. 

The healthcare training environment much work to match and exceed that of other industries in terms of its efficiency and effectiveness, whether in providing adaptive learning or in being conducive to the people working in it. Healthcare organizations are going to focus more than ever on making learning and training a strategic value and abandon the one-size-fits-all approach that has irritated legions of healthcare workers. The industry will also transform itself to match the needs of the Millennial and younger generations that will soon hold the majority ofits jobs. Expect a more flexible, open environment where recognition and communication occur in ways that promote a creative approach to solving some of healthcare’s biggest challenges. 

Annual healthcare compliance training has been an area where the mind-numbing pattern of taking the same training year after year has to change for at least some of its employees. Healthcare organizations cannot afford for people to spend that much time away from their regular jobs in a repetitive exercise that may have little value. Providers are going to be able to let people test out of parts of the training and take what is most relevant to their positions and specialty. Efficiency and effectiveness are going to apply more to this area. 

The continued low rates of resuscitation success inside healthcare organizations show us that the same old routine of biannual training and certification just isn’t making enough of a difference. Improving resuscitation success is going to involve different tactics. Here again, the people who need the training more often are going to get it, so that their skills and knowledge stay current and match the latest scientific research. Other are only going to need the basics on a more infrequent cadence. We are going to focus on making resuscitation training more effective. 

The professionals who work in healthcare revenue cycle are becoming more and more important to organizational success, now that high-deductible health insurance is the norm. Staff knowledge is essential for helping patients understand their financial responsibility. Likewise, this function sets the tone for the entire healthcare experience for many patients. With the human resources challenges involved in keeping revenue cycle departments fully staffed, more efforts will occur to make the jobs more attractive to candidates. Improving the work environment in terms of flexibility, career pathing, and communication will be very important. 

The functions that support healthcare providers, like credentialing and provider enrollment, have long resisted automation. However, the financial pressure of doing business in healthcare is forcing this part of the healthcare puzzle to modernize. The volume of transactions and intricacy of operations is more than traditional paper- or spreadsheet-based operations can handle. The transition to value-based care and the move to electronic medical records (EMRs) are also accelerating how these functions will be accomplished. 

Every care environment outside of hospitals is in the process of being hit by the “silver tsunami” as the U.S. populations ages. The proportion of the population over age 65 will skyrocket, as will the demand for healthcare. Older adults are likely to have more serious health conditions and more needs for care. To keep the system solvent, it will be necessary to control costs while expanding the reach of care. That means we’re going to need far more people working in every part of healthcare, from hospitals to long term residential care and every area in between. New provider options are going to occur with nurse practitioners and telehealth providers. Keeping people in their jobs is going to require better career pathing, more flexible work environments, and attention to all the reasons people stay in jobs. 

About HealthStream 

HealthStream is dedicated to improving patient outcomes through the development of healthcare organizations' greatest asset: their people. Our solutions are contracted by healthcare organizations in the U.S. for workforce development, training & learning management, talent management, credentialing, privileging, provider enrollment, performance assessment, and managing simulation-based education programs. 

We are committed to solving big problems in healthcare. From hospitals to long-term care and across the care continuum, there are challenges stemming from demographic changes, governmental mandates, and the need for higher care quality. HealthStream helps organizations strengthen the revenue cycle, improve care transitions, increase retention, reduce risk, plan for leadership succession, and be more compliant—to name just a few of the ways we help care providers. What unites us is our philosophy that “every patient deserves the best possible workforce.” 


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