Healthcare Workforce – 2024 Health IT Predictions

As we kick off 2024, we wanted to start the new year with a series of 2024 Health IT predictions.  We asked the Healthcare IT Today community to submit their predictions and we received a wide ranging set of responses that we grouped into a number of themes.  In fact, we got so many that we had to narrow them down to just the best and most interesting.  Check out our community’s predictions below and be sure to add your own thoughts and/or places you disagree with these predictions in the comments and on social media.

All of this year’s 2024 health IT predictions (updated as they’re shared):

And now, check out our community’s Healthcare Workforce predictions.

Jason Considine, Chief Commercial Officer at Experian Health
Staffing shortages will continue to be a major pain point for providers in 2024 and have a direct impact on their bottom line. A whopping 100% of respondents in Experian Health’s latest survey said staffing shortages impacted their organizations and 70% of those who said payer reimbursements are the most impacted by the staff shortages say it led to higher denial rates.

Technology can significantly alleviate some of these issues throughout the rev cycle by automating repetitive tasks, enhancing efficiency, and augmenting human capabilities. This frees up staff to focus on more complex and strategic aspects of RCM. In an era where expanding the workforce isn’t always feasible, healthcare organizations must harness technology to enhance operations, reduce costs, and prevent staff burnout.

Clint Drawdy, CEO at iMethods
I believe we will see a shift in the best leaders in HIT winning some of the workforce battle. The last two years have proved challenging and sometimes damaging in regards to building great cultures, attracting, engaging and retaining top talent. There are some great leaders and health systems that will really be able to achieve more as they win this battle.

Dot Havard, Head of Global Workforce at CPSI
In the US, the healthcare workforce continues to experience staffing shortages and hiring concerns. Providers may need to get creative with their workforce and expand globally to meet demands. Looking to 2024, automation will remain another valuable strategy to address shortage-related issues by digitizing manual tasks and streamlining workflows. However, the workforce must be prepared for advanced technologies.

I predict organizations will continue to incorporate global resources to assist with heavily strained areas such as revenue cycle management. Additionally, hospitals and health systems will explore new training and upskilling programs to ensure teams are ready for the influx of automation.

Mark S. Rodi, Revenue Cycle Design Architect at e4health
In 2024, the healthcare industry will anticipate a positive shift in the healthcare workforce, marked by a recent Moody’s report upgrading the outlook of the not-for-profit and public healthcare sectors from negative to stable. The key highlight of this projection is the expectation that healthcare revenue growth will surpass expenditures.

Facing staffing challenges over the past three years, the healthcare sector has adapted with agility, utilizing contract staffing and alternative methodologies. Notably, organizations integrating Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are poised for a dual benefit in 2024, experiencing increased revenue and reduced expenditures. By directing human resources toward value-added tasks, RPA efficiently handles repetitive, non-value tasks, reflecting the timeless wisdom of “work smarter, not harder,” as coined by industrial engineer Allen F. Morgenstern.

The overarching theme for the 2024 healthcare workforce centers around strategic optimization and efficiency. With the integration of intelligent technologies and refined operational approaches, the sector aims to enhance its financial health, ensuring a more effective response to patient needs and stakeholder expectations.

Nick Lockett, Co-Founder & CTO at Pear Suite
A growing Medicaid population and a diminishing healthcare workforce have set the stage for 2 industry shifts. The first is towards a less clinical preventative care staff to ease the burden on the shrinking numbers of clinical staff both by taking on some of their work, and reducing the number of ER visits and high touch encounters by truly actualizing preventative care as a solution. The second, is to move towards artificial intelligence to support clinicians and social care workers for the more burdensome work that they are already doing. These two innovations should move the whole industry to a higher level of efficiency, which is absolutely necessary and the populations soar and worker counts plummet.

Amaris McComas, Chief People Officer at CPSI
Talent scarcity will persist in 2024 as organizations attempt to combat the rising cost of living and meet higher compensation demands. Developing a competitive workforce strategy remains critical to attract and maintain top talent. Workers are seeking more from their employers. They will continue to value flexibility and overall wellbeing as a key to their productivity and satisfaction.

Reskilling and upskilling will become commonplace in healthcare to address the evolving digital landscape and new revenue cycle complexities. As intelligent automation develops, healthcare organizations and their staff must adapt to technology while developing skills to stay agile in the face of change. The challenge for HCOs in 2024 is to optimize and equip their current workforce with necessary automation skills while creating a strategy to meet employee demands in an increasingly competitive healthcare arena.

Mohan Giridharadas, Founder & CEO at LeanTaaS
Staffing shortages have been a major issue within healthcare for a long time, and in 2024 the crisis will continue. We have reached a point where traditional stop-gap approaches, like hiring and retention strategies, are no longer enough now, let alone in several years when the shortages will be even worse.

Healthcare must embrace the major role that AI has to play in solving the workforce challenge. With AI and automation, healthcare leaders and the frontline will be able to anticipate what is coming, accurately plan for staffing needs, reduce cognitive overload by making intelligent recommendations, and allow staff to operate at the top of their license.

Bruce Springer, CEO at Prolucent
As health systems continue to face negative margins, due in large part to increased labor costs in a dynamic and competitive workforce market, technology solutions will play a pivotal role to unlock siloed data to provide insights and inform strategies to engage, deploy, and retain workers. With already large investments in workforce solutions, health systems will begin to standardize on fewer core systems and will consolidate technologies to gain efficiencies across their facilities.

With healthcare providers seeking to attract and retain talent in a competitive landscape, I believe the industry will adopt workforce optimization platforms that integrate workforce technology along with labor market intelligence to help allocate resources more cost-effectively. Healthcare organizations will move toward unifying the management of all labor types across a healthcare enterprise – both internal and external – using modern systems to develop flexible staffing models and pipelines for talent on a single integrated platform. At the same time, healthcare organizations will increasingly rely on real-time market intelligence to gain insights into local market trends and competitor strategies to transform recruitment, help determine effective spend tactics, and compare recruitment efforts against real-time labor utilization to reduce costs.

Tim Vaughan, Vice President of Product – Healthcare at pCare by Uniguest
Staffing shortages and clinician burnout are still playing a significant role within the healthcare industry. The key to solving these challenges is automating workflows and leveraging actionable data to address bottlenecks. In 2024, these activities will continue to drive efficiency into hospital processes boosting morale and supporting retention of staff while improving patient outcomes.

Technology that encourages teamwork in healthcare will contribute to staff retention and improved patient outcomes in the new year. As hospitals are increasing camera usage in the patient room, family members can get more involved in the patient’s journey. One of the biggest challenges when family members have a loved one in the hospital is not knowing when a physician is going to come by and visit the patient. All parties want the family and loved ones to be part of the conversation during these rounds, but they may not have a flexible schedule to physically be there. The ability to be virtually present for a rounding session via a patient engagement system is huge and boosts morale. Patients feel better having their loved ones included, family members are happy knowing they’re part of the care process, and the clinicians’ burden is reduced with informal caregivers at hand.

Digital transformation is more than a buzzword – it’s now a top priority for healthcare leaders as they seek to build resilient and supportive systems enterprise-wide. Emerging digital technologies provide new value, pair well with staff, and modify operations for the better. As smart hospitals continue to develop for the better in 2024, we must consider the impact digital transformation can make on patients within health facilities and beyond the physical walls of the hospital.

As a whole, patients don’t want to be in the hospital, and from a wellness and cost standpoint, organizations don’t want them there either. Health systems seek to efficiently heal patients and reduce avoidable admissions. This is where advancing telemedicine can play a big role. With evolving use cases before, during, and after a hospital admission, virtual care will continue to evolve as a fantastic tool to easily engage patients, optimize clinician time, and reduce both length of stay and readmissions.

Kim Glenn, Senior Vice President of Government & Healthcare Plans at HHAeXchange
The bulk of Medicaid redetermination is technically behind the homecare industry, but unwinding is far from over, and it has led to work and challenges that will heavily shape 2024 and beyond. Providers certainly want to administer homecare to those in need, but identifying those needs amid the unwinding chaos and coordinating logistics – such as staffing, payments and billing – monopolizes time and resources. This year, agencies will seek solutions to these challenges, but they can’t juggle it solo, so federal and state support is key.

The federally mandated 2023 electronic visit verification (EVV) rollout equipped providers with a useful tool to maximize time, efficiency and resources. Having had a year to learn the platforms and explore the additional beneficial features, agencies are starting to use them for more than EVV. Expanding EVV platform usage to streamline administrative tasks and stretch hours will help support the work required to resolve post-redetermination challenges.

Pramila Srinivasan, Chief Executive Officer at CharmHealth
Supporting medical workers with AI-based co-pilots
The pandemic led to widespread health care worker shortages, increased fatigue, and lowered morale. As clinician morale continues to suffer, we will see a turn to AI-based co-pilots supporting medical workers to improve productivity. With the rising opportunities for hybrid work, medical professionals will turn increasingly to the “sharing economy” to control their own schedules and workload.

Hybrid health care will continue to grow
Entrepreneurs launching hybrid health care services will continue to grow and provide a means for health care providers to ease back into the profession they trained for and love.

Philip Johnson, Senior Principal, Quality and Compliance Solutions at IQVIA
One issue that many organizations do encounter is, ironically, a surplus of data. If managed incorrectly, this can actually impact outcomes. Though concerns about a lack of data previously fueled motivation to identify new technologies, many organizations often fall victim to the opposite. When organizations acquire technology and are unaware of how to use or properly leverage it, they can end up in large amounts of data and not know how to appropriately apply it to improving solutions.

The other realization that many organizations will encounter is that technology and headcount are not always mutually exclusive. Organizations are often resistant to adopting certain technologies as they are fearful of reducing headcount. Although this is the case sometimes, it shouldn’t deter an organization from adopting technology that will improve quality. And more successful organizations will look at technology, not just for what it does in regard to profit and loss and headcount, but how it directly affects the area it is meant to be improving, such as quality, regulatory or safety.

Organizations need to remember that technology requires a workforce that supports integration and is onboard to learn and train to effectively use the technology. Not enough attention is given to supplying people with the appropriate support and training to feel comfortable with technology. Especially if people are pushing back on the implementation of technology, that can be a huge deterrent to the success of an organization. Moving forward, organizations that can create a culture that embraces change across people, processes and technology will benefit in the coming years. Those who can jump into and embrace new innovations while supporting their staff and internal processes to fully understand and integrate new technologies will take full advantage of any change.

Dr. Benjamin Barlow, Chief Medical Officer at Experity
In 2024, we will continue to see overcrowded emergency departments, further contributing to staff burnout and frustrating patients trying to navigate the healthcare system. Urgent care can play a role in alleviating these issues, taking pressure off providers, and treating patients in a fraction of the time. Education is crucial in helping patients understand where they can and should seek care for non-emergent conditions and will ultimately help establish a balanced flow of visit volumes that benefits providers and patients alike.

Bill Charnetski, EVP, Health System Solutions and Government Affairs at PointClickCare
HIT incentives and staying consistent with federal interoperability standards will be key in solving the nation-wide staffing crisis. In 2024, organizations will fully realize HIT’s potential in helping to solve the ongoing staffing crisis in healthcare. By improving productivity and enabling organizations with funding to invest in improved solutions to enhance interoperability, caregivers will be able to perform their jobs more efficiently.

Making the clinical workspace an inviting place to be with improved access to technology that allows clinical staff to do their job more seamlessly will lead to improved outcomes and happier staff across the board. As technology adoption increases across the nation, it will be more important than ever for states to model interoperability standards with federal strategies and standards. Alignment with the federal infrastructure will strengthen the impact of HIT investments on clinical staff and high-need patients.

David Kirshner, Managing Partner at LogicSource
In 2024, mid-level managers in health systems face the possibility of their roles at risk if they continue to rely on time-worn approaches to cost-savings. Simply, continuing to focus on existing models, partners, and cost-reduction methods is no longer adequate. We find too many organizations in which their managers are consumed by initiatives that aren’t sufficient to solve the challenges ahead of us. We need new approaches, new solutions, and, frankly, a heightened sense of urgency.

In response to the increasing issue of labor costs, health system managers and leaders find themselves at a critical juncture, necessitating a proactive stance to advocate for increased investments and initiatives targeting non-labor cost reduction. This vital strategy emphasizes viable operating improvement projects with demonstrable ROI, all under an optimized supply chain, which could save their role in 2024.

However, a notable lack of urgency persists among hospital leaders as they continue to engage their workforce in pursuing myriad cost-saving initiatives that yield minimal impact on the overarching challenge. The repetitive nature of these efforts, mirroring outdated strategies, reflects an expectation of different outcomes.

The best health system leaders have discarded these approaches as too little, too late, by instead focusing the best of their workforce on core competencies and strategies. In doing so, leaders wrestle control of non-core improvement initiatives from entrenched insiders who prioritize protecting existing structures over embracing transformative changes. In essence, the forecast for 2024 underscores the imperative for healthcare leaders to break free from traditional paradigms, ensuring that their workforce is aligned with initiatives that bring about substantial, sustainable change in their health system operations and finances. Their role will depend on it.

Misty Mattingly, SVP & Chief Dental Hygiene Officer at Sage Dental
Workforce shortages continued to overwhelm the entire healthcare continuum in 2023, and the dental industry experienced the effects tenfold. Specifically, recruiting hygienists and assistants has been a significant challenge. These staffing shortages have not only resulted in higher rates of burnout among dental professionals, but also increased wait times for patients and overall reduced access to care.

To mitigate these effects, we’ve seen a recent rise in practices adopting AI-assisted technology to help streamline administrative tasks and improve operational efficiency – a trend we can expect to continue throughout 2024. For example, AI-powered speech recognition helps dentists and hygienists seamlessly capture notes during a patient visit without stopping and physically entering information. In 2024, I believe we’re really going to see the impact of these AI-backed technologies take shape, with even more practices prioritizing them as a standard for high-quality care and heightened demand for more innovation.

Rikki Jennings, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at Zebra Technologies
Labor challenges/nurse staffing shortages will continue, leading to automation and AI solutions to better manage operations and accelerate innovation.

Healthcare costs are 10% of global GDP spend as the nursing shortage continues to grow and more healthcare providers drop out of the workforce or seek roles that provide more flexibility. Higher operational costs coupled with labor shortages feels like a recipe for disaster. Undoubtedly, the healthcare industry will need to be more innovative to improve operational efficiency, capacity and labor management associated with the higher costs/less available/ labor challenge.

The demand for more flexible healthcare roles is also adding a new twist to the labor challenge. According to McKinsey, 45% of healthcare practitioners say they do some remote work, perhaps reflecting the rise in telemedicine. As telehealth and home healthcare expand, expect more clinicians to seek more roles that provide more flexibility. A typical shift for a clinician requires that they remain within the four walls of a healthcare setting, whereas providing care in a home gives clinicians flexibility and allows them to spend more time with patients and provide more personal care, autonomy and control.

Within hospitals, leaders will automate as many workflows as possible to better manage supply chain, patient demand/turnover, and the workforce. They know they must improve resource utilization and service quality. Healthcare will require more end-to-end visibility in the supply chain, together with other applications driving environmental sensing growth. Expect providers to adopt real-time health system supply chain platforms, driven by the need to more closely align supply chain logistics with clinical activity.

Automating the right processes will allow for more efficient throughput management, as well as scheduling optimization. Expect more interest in business model transformation, which includes dual systems of care, site of care shifts, and virtual care product lines.

As the healthcare system is strained by an aging population and broadened access to public health care, it will be nurses that feel the weight of patient responsibility on their shoulders. According to a recent McKinsey study, 45% of inpatient nurses (who make up about nearly half of the 4.2 million nurses in the U.S.) say they are likely to leave their role within the next six months. The top reasons cited were not having a manageable workload and not feeling valued by their organization.

Though these stats reflect the U.S. situation, this is a global concern; it’s estimated that up to 13 million nurses will be needed to fill the global nurse shortage gap in the future. Staffing shortages are driving the need for artificial intelligence to accelerate innovation, particularly for patient diagnosis, treatment and home healthcare. In the same study, nurses expressed that documentation, or “hunting and gathering” takes up about 15% of their time during a shift, rather than patient care. Tech and digital solutions can help reduce this burden on nurses’ time. Leaders lean on the full capabilities of next-gen AI given the sheer volume of data and insights it can provide to drive solutions. Do not underestimate the speed in which AI will play a larger part in healthcare.

Jeff Fallon, CEO at eVideon
In 2024, eVideon anticipates the imperative for training and technology adoption amidst prevailing staffing challenges. At this crucial moment, there’s a pressing need for increased technology adoption to meet growing healthcare sector demands. Our firm commitment to client training addresses a widespread pain point in healthcare technology adoption identified by KLAS Research. It is our goal to simplify technology complexities, remove unnecessary burden, and equip today’s healthcare professionals with the knowledge and tools required to meet the diverse needs of today’s patient population and deliver the highest quality healthcare for all.

Leslie Snavely, President at CHG Healthcare
Large health systems are facing four competing forces within their workforce heading into 2024: financial pressures to right-size labor costs, difficulty in recruiting due to a scarcity of physicians and other clinicians, an increasing risk of burnout within their team, and an increasing desire for work-life balance.

The solutions can’t exclusively revolve around re-investing in the quantity of permanent hires and reducing temporary staff. As we look ahead, I see health systems building capabilities in the following key areas: (1) improving the staff experience and culture to maximize retention and attract great permanent candidates; (2) establishing staffing models that see contract and fractional labor as a way to flex and adapt with emerging patient volumes; (3) finding ways to manage this complexity efficiently through technology.

To do this, health systems will need to build more capabilities in data and analytics across all disciplines to have the right workforce where they need it, when they need it, including a focus on employee satisfaction, recruitment time-to-fill, and cost optimization across a permanent and temporary staffing pool.

Holly Miller, President at Collette Health
Nursing shortages will continue to be the number one pain point for hospitals and health systems of all sizes across the country in 2024. The shift and transformation in the industry have already happened, and now it’s about technology-enabled solutions that meet the moment. Healthcare providers need to embrace and invest in innovative solutions that can address the nursing shortages in real-time.

Accessible, quality care will continue to be hot-button issues looking for technology-enabled solutions, especially among the nation’s rural and critical access hospitals. These organizations, which are typically hit harder with staff shortages and overburdened workers, need staffing and technology solutions that they can quickly and easily deploy and layer onto existing workflows. The urgency of the situation, combined with the need to maintain nurse satisfaction, will drive this change.

The biggest trend we see is that the profession of nursing is fundamentally and irrevocably altered. A new generation of nurses, and a new generation of nursing are here. Our job is to meet the moment with accessible solutions that address a variety of challenges and use cases. Healthcare providers who initially adopted technology specifically for virtual monitoring will broaden the spectrum of applications, particularly in the realm of virtual nursing, bringing the technology to new units and across entire health systems. Hospitals will increasingly prioritize the implementation of cost-effective solutions, striving to balance the integration of both traditional and cutting-edge nursing methods.

Scott Hondros, MHA, SCPM, Vice President of Services Commercialization & Strategy at CenTrak
Alleviating healthcare staff of manual tasks is crucial for addressing burnout and retaining employees. In 2024, healthcare leaders will find that supporting professionals not only improves care quality but also benefits the bottom line. Access to workflow automation platforms is essential, reducing the need for manual documentation and enabling proactive communication among staff, patients, and their families. Workflow platforms utilizing RTLS data can monitor patient flow metrics, providing staff with precise patient location information throughout their care journey. Next year, prioritizing comprehensive visibility for healthcare professionals will be key, allowing teams to securely monitor each aspect of a healthcare facility, prioritizing tasks effectively.

Workplace violence should not be an accepted risk for healthcare professionals. Yet, verbal and physical abuse rates are alarmingly high. This, combined with staffing shortages and burnout, is driving professionals away from the field. Healthcare organizations must prioritize staff safety with the same emphasis as patient safety, adopting proactive strategies rather than reactive responses. As awareness of these issues grows, investments in technologies like staff duress systems and aggression screenings are increasing, reflecting a dedicated effort to mitigate workplace violence in healthcare.

Ashish Shah, CEO at Dina
Recognizing the persistent staffing shortages in the industry, there is a unique and immediate opportunity to optimize the human supply chain of healthcare and redefine care delivery across the entire continuum. As care continues to move into the home, providers will rely on tools and technology that are easy to use and progressive to address new and future needs. When done right, investing in the technology to see, manage and coordinate resources can alleviate the pressure on the heroes in the hospital who are coordinating patient care, and help return people safely back to their homes and communities.

Amy Amrick, CEO at Aspirion
The acute labor shortage compounded by the sophistication needed to navigate revenue integrity successfully, will continue to create material pressure for healthcare leaders in 2024. Amid continued complexity working with payors to ensure fast and accurate payment, hospital finance leaders must tackle these challenges with a new set of eyes. Access to exceptional talent and application of optimized RCM processes are essential, but leveraging innovative technology, including generative AI and large language models, have become non-negotiable.

Technology is now fundamental to effectively navigating the pursuit of receivables; when done right, technology maximizes yield, accelerates collections and support staff by reducing administrative burden, addressing burnout and promoting well-being. With hospital operating margins on average at 1-2%, the critical nature of optimizing performance in revenue cycle is simply essential.

Be sure to check out all of Healthcare IT Today’s Healthcare Workforce content and all of our other 2024 healthcare IT predictions.

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