Finally We Can Move Forward

The Supreme Court has largely upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Healthcare Reform, and consequently healthcare delivery systems nationally must now turn their attention to how they are going to provide better medical care for more people at a lower cost.

Since November 14, 2011 when the high court agreed to hear arguments about the constitutionality of the law, healthcare providers—acute care, specialty and home care providers, drug manufacturers, managed care companies, long-term and assisted care providers, medical device companies and medical technology organizations—have been waiting for a decision which will have broad and deep implications about how their organization should and will do business in this country.

With the ruling today, the healthcare industry will need to rush to make necessary changes to be totally compliant by March 2014. Some forward thinking facilities, who embraced the mandates as changes they needed to implement anyway, have continued to make sweeping changes, but many have stood still waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision. Since people are the most vital element for any type of healthcare provider, few areas will be as impacted as the recruitment and retention functions.

Business is going to be good. Large numbers of people will need to be hired and trained. Many of those people will be skilled workers who simply do not exist. For example, we are only educating a third of the laboratory professionals we need in this country and their average age is in the upper 40s. Competition is going to be increasingly keen. 

Salary, wage and benefits account for 63% of every dollar spent on healthcare making people, by far, the biggest budgetary line item on a healthcare organization’s financial spreadsheet. Healthcare reform turns healthcare into more of a business where the most important line item will be scrutinized and studied. The individual in charge of that function must be well informed and positioned with a strong, data driven plan. 

Human Resource Departments have enjoyed the lowest vacancy rates in recent memory. The depressed and stubborn economy continues to inch along and many healthcare workers have been afraid to move or change jobs because they may have been the only breadwinner in the home. Individuals have put off retirement because they simply did not have enough saved and some had children returning home because the children couldn’t find a job. Whatever the reason, healthcare workers have not been moving. They will be now. 

Things will change with the Supreme Court ruling because it provides the industry with a clear mandate of where everyone needs to go in the next decade and that will translate into a major push to have a strong and productive workforce. 

Children will continue to be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26. Preventative measures such as mammograms, colonoscopies and prostate screenings will be covered. Well-baby check-ups will be covered and individuals with pre-existing conditions will be able to get and keep healthcare insurance. No one will top out over “lifetime limits”. Healthcare systems will be required to adopt Electronic Medical Records and everyone will be ICD-10 compliant. All of these things will mean there is a need for highly skilled and hard-to-find healthcare professionals. 

Physicians will now be more likely to become an employee as opposed to opening a private practice. Consequently they will be hired not as a specialty but just like RNs and Physical Therapists. Soon you will read about mergers—not just among hospitals and healthcare systems—but with managed care companies, physician practices, laboratories and insurance companies in an effort to better capitalize on the positive reimbursement formula for Accountable Care Organizations. The mix of professionals you will be seeking may look very different from what you have recruited for in the past. 

As 11,000 Baby Boomers retire every day and for the next 19 years, they will be able to receive joint replacements, manage their oncology and cardiology needs, as well as chronic illnesses, because they will be fully covered. Thirty-two million additional individuals with insurance will mean rapid growth for the healthcare industry. 

Competition within recruitment and retention will ramp up because more for-profit healthcare companies will enter the market in an effort to serve the now insured—especially in the long-term, home care, assisted living and rehabilitation markets. These for-profit companies recruit aggressively and successfully. 

Healthcare is the only sector that has continued to create jobs during the Great Recession. About 360,000 jobs were created in the last 12 months alone. According to a study released by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, we will need 5.6 million more healthcare workers by 2020. That means 13% of all jobs in this country will be in the healthcare industry or almost 20 million workers. 

Today, more than 50% of the workforce is comprised of Generation Y, or individuals aged 34 and younger. They are the workers you need to attract if you are going to staff successfully in this Healthcare Reform era. They don’t read newspapers and they don’t wait two weeks for you to call them back. They Google looking for positions and they respond on a variety of devices—computer, tablet, and more and more often, via their mobile device. 

Now that the waiting is over, successful healthcare recruiting functions will need to have platforms that provide candidates with almost immediate access to all open jobs, successful search engine marketing and optimization programs, a career web site that sells the opportunity and social media campaigns that are part of the conversation. 

Healthcare Reform will change the way we provide healthcare in this country. People are the most important element. Is your organization ready?

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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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