5 key trends in the healthcare workforce — jobs grow 2.6M in 10 years

The healthcare workforce is growing, with more than 2.6 million jobs added between 2005 and 2015. The healthcare organization's workforce will have an impact on healthcare spending and the financial health of organizations going forward, according to Health Affairs.

 

Here are five trends to know:

1. Healthcare accounted for 35 percent of the jobs added in the U.S. from 2005 to 2015. Of the 2.6 million jobs created, 6 percent were for physicians. Primary care physician volume jumped 8 percent while specialist jobs grew six times faster, according to the report.

2. While the jobs available for primary care physicians grew, PCP share of the physician workforce decreased from 44 percent to 37 percent. As the baby boomer population ages, the need for primary care will increase and the role of non-physician primary care providers could expand. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants in some cases provide primary care services; the NP and PCP workforce grew 17 percent from 2005 to 2015.

3. If the number of specialists grew under the right conditions, the article suggests the impact "would not necessarily be negative for healthcare spending." A higher volume of specialists could create competition for referrals that would lead to lower prices. However, hospital integration and set fees for public payers could hinder this trend, and specialists charging facility fees would reverse it.

4. MedPAC, the Health Resources and Service Administration and Association of American Medical Colleges have suggested changes that could increase the volume of primary care physicians. MedPAC has suggested revising the Medicare fee schedule, which currently undervalues primary care and over compensates some specialties.

HRSA recommends funding be directed towards medical students working in family medicine, geriatrics and general internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry and general surgery. In 2012, AAMC recommended making half of the residency positions in primary care.

5. The National Health Service Corps program which provides student loan forgiveness for practicing primary care in underserved areas, has had limited success. "If we are to bend the cost curve, we likely need to move more aggressively on fee schedule changes, payment reform and workforce policies," concluded the article's authors.

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