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Healthcare Industry and Workforce Issues

Today’s marketplace and industrial sectors are constantly changing with the regular forces in the market (Abbott and Coenen 2008, 10). The health sector is among these sectors that are changing enormously with time considering that regularly there are new emergencies, inventions, new market demands, regulations and sector improvements. A country’s government must ensure that the health care of its people is properly managed for better economic development and growth of a country.

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The United States is estimated to employ more than 20 million workers all around the continent. This figure reciprocates to about 5% of the population growth that contributes to the growth of the U. S. economy (Anderson 2005, 56; Davis, Schoenbaum and Audet 2005, 956). The health workers are the backbone of the health sector especially in the developing world because any patient seeking health services will have to be in close contact with the health personnel for them to receive the health services and regain health. Thus, significant efforts are needed to ensure that the workforce in the health sector is at per with the demand of the services for the public to enjoy better services. Some of the efforts being put across are drafting of new health reforms and policies for the health industry so that more efficient and better services are provided by health workers to the public (Bott et al 2009, 94).

The human resource management of an organization is responsible for the management of its workers and overseeing their development through working measures. According to Fisher (2008, 1206), managing people is one of the most challenging tasks to accomplish in the healthcare industry. Over time there has been the implementation of some programs that call for the reorganization of healthcare services and the workforce that is responsible for delivering better health services.

Those involved in healthcare administration are obligated to have some understanding of their organization (Crosson 2009(a), 1324). The senior managers are the ones responsible for the strategic planning when it comes to matters regarding which services should be added or discontinued. The major challenge facing the senior management sector of the health care industry is to effectively increase the changing healthcare delivery to meet the needs of the public population to exactly be equitable and achieve maximum health gain and to offer the service at affordable rates and within the limited national resources (Eibner et al 2009, 579; Benner, Sutphen and Day 2009, 33).

Provision of healthcare is a responsibility overseen by several professions who are involved in the administering of proper public health care but the largest group of these professionals is made up of the nursing personnel. Most countries have healthcare systems composed of mostly nurses who are responsible for providing basic health care and public health interventions. Nursing care provides various entry routes in medical health care practice. Nurses can work in all types of settings and shifts to provide health care services (Foote 2003, 356).

Managers of health care facilities should note that developing a good nursing workforce is essential if they are to achieve the full capacity of the nurses’ capability to care for their patients. These days the demand for better services is very high. The public is expecting higher quality service response from the health service sector and its professional workforce is expected to rise as consumers are being engaged more fully in the determining the shape and scope of local health care provision (HRSA 2006, 25; Schuler & Jackson 1999, 56; Goldsmith 2009). Presently, healthcare industry leaders are becoming aware of the fact that an increase in service demand aspects of health care is related to health care outcomes. Good health attention should be the main concern in each government’s national budget as it is an essential facet in ensuring the good health of the public.

Good health service provision involves a range of strategies to effectively arbitrate and improve the care given to all the needing patients. An assessment to evaluate the capacity of the registered nurses’ workforce supporting health reforms is necessary for various reasons. Quite programs related to health reform legislation rely on interventions that fall squarely within the scope of practice of RNs (Goldfarb, Goldfarb and Long 2008, 197).

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Programs like Disease Management (DM) which are used to diagnose some of the chronic illnesses need rigorous care coordination and well managed interdisciplinary clinical management to achieve quality outcomes. The DM program targets patients with chronic diseases like patients with heart failure, diabetics which are some of the common health problems being experienced today. For these reasons, the health care facilities should have enough workforce who will ensure that the patients are well taken care of to regain their health (IOM 2009, 14).

According to Blumenthal (2009, 1489), and Kaye and Takach (2009, 148), investments that involve expansion of “interoperable health information technology” (HIT) are essential in the execution of the system reforms which will, in turn, contribute to the expansion of community-wide information switch over, which can transform the allocation, expertise mix and capacity of the practice of nurses in various means. There is a high demand to build primary care nursing workforce to increase the accessibility to cover and provide quality healthcare services (Chokshi 2009, 43; Jencks et al 2009, 1420).

Confirmation of this increase in growth demand “can be seen in Massachusetts when a reform established in 2006 resulted to steady growth in demand for primary healthcare attention but only a few could be met due to present reservoir of primary healthcare resources” (Craven and Ober 2009, 98). Also, the number of nursing practitioners rivals the number of people needing health service, thus there is a significant growth in demand for primary care services (Green et al 2004). Researches show that from 2000 to 2006, the number of patients being attended by the country’s health institutions had grown to 16.1 million people about 67%.

The figure shows that there was an increase in demand for care and to cope up with the massive number of people needing health care and also the number of health workforce; nurses and physicians grew by 57% (HRSA 2002, 145). But despite the increase in health workers, according to the National Association for Community Health Centers (NACHC), there was still a shortage of about 1,843 primary care providers that included 1,384. An estimated number of about 56 million people do not have access to primary health care (cited by Bodenheimer 2008, 1067). For the health intuitions to manage the growing number of patients and at least ensure that health services are provided to 30 million up from 16 million people about 15,500 to 19,500 primary healthcare providers need to be involved (Long 2008, 270; Long and Masi 2009).

However, the greatest challenge faced by most health organizations is how they can increase the capacity of nursing services to provide patient care (Bovbjerg, Ormond and Pindus 2009, 88; Counsell et al 2007, 2625). The statistics collected from the National Statistics Survey show that the nursing sector is not growing to meet the demand needed in-service health provision (Buerhaus, Auerbach and Staiger 2009, 659; Coleman et al 2006, 1825). Between the years 2004 and 2008 there had not been any virtual change in the number of employed RN and other health practitioners.

All over the world, the health workforce market is influenced by various factors, they include levels of income, the emergence of new technologies, and the discovery of new diseases among many other factors. These are some of the factors the human resource management of any health care organization is preoccupied with to ensure that the workforce in the sector meets the growing demand of their customers (patients). Human resource management should be aware of the benefits of having the full-service provision of professionals in the health industry today (DesRoches et al 2008, 164; Fisher et al 2009, 219). As one compares the different cares provided from home health care to hospital and ambulatory health care it is evident that there is a need for expert clinical nursing care.

Then, there is the need to increase the workforce provided by the nurses as demand for nurses with competencies increases in today’s medical practice. These are individuals with effective education background certification of emergency care, special care and critical care. According to Berenson et al (2008, 1219), for an organization to attain its target goal, practices involving the management of people should be well incorporated in the organization’s set policies.

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Several case studies show that human management should be a factor to consider for an organization to enjoy high-performance mark and consumer satisfaction (Dubois and Singh 2009, 87; Lankshear et al 2005, 168). Resource managers should seek new creative ways to provide staff development and to facilitate continuing nursing education to meet the ever-growing consumer demands. Creating healthy working environments for the nurses could be used as one way of retaining and attracting other nurses to avoid nurses’ shortage and manage the demand for service provision (Leff et al 2009, 558; Crosson 2009(b), 63).

Healthy and good working environments call for all systems in the organization to be transparent in that people’s performance and recruitment among other factors are done on merit instead of discrimination. These people will then contribute positively to the performance of the organization. Opportunity to improve one’s knowledge in the health sector should be provided. As suggested by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (2009), which found out that every registered nurse is expected to find a way to continue with their nursing education. Another way an employing organization would ensure quality health care is provided to the consumers (patients) is by implementing a competency orientation program that would be used to test the competency of the nurses and the standards of continuing education that are in place (Epstein 2009, 1460; HRSA, 2010, 128).

Most governments are seeking new strategies to reform the healthcare industries especially in the delivering of the services. In response to what the future holds for NHS, the Labor Government made a statement saying that “will do more than just care for and treat patients who are ill – it will be an NHS of the passive patient-the NHS of the future will be one of patient power, patients engaged and taking greater control over their health and their health care too” (cited by Baron & Armstrong 2007, 36). As a human resource manager, the moment there is an increase in the demand for health care one would likely tend to be concerned with the increasing trend than to question why the trend is increasing.

Health care systems in most countries both developed and developing have undertaken reform phases due to the increase in demand for better health care and also because of the increasing number of people who are concerned with the weak relationship in the amount of investment and the upshots of health position. The reforms are usually used to improve the efficiency of health service provision, equity access to better health care service and quality service provided to the public. Health care services provisions are influenced by the population that is in demand of the service hence there is always a link between population and health (Linda, Walter & Peter 2006, 39).

The understanding of the demographic variable such as size, composition distributions are essential for determining how health services will be provided. The health care industry is a very labour intensive sector. Its human resource unit is defined as being the most important unit which ensures that service delivery is of quality as well as it accounts for the greatest expenditure used in health care provision (Dorr et al 2008, 2201). When an organization intends to put up a human resource function for health, it needs to estimate how much workforce would be required to meet the future health service demand and what kind of developmental strategies would be put in place to meet the target goal of having customer satisfaction including coming up with ways in which demand can be managed to reduce gaps or oversupply of services (White and Gena 2002, 78).

The planning strategy carried out by human resource management unit is first to conduct an assessment that would estimate the adequacy of current service supply and the current service requirement. This is one way in which the organization can identify and analyze the gap of the imbalances present if only the population estimate is done on accurate measures according to the population characteristic, type of the institution and area of expertise. Secondly, the management unit can analyze their professional workforce basing their findings on the demographic survey of their staff and the demand for health care.

The analysis will be used to match the workforce needed to equal the demand required to attain customer satisfaction (Kane et al 2007, 1198; CBO (Congressional Budget Office) 2004). When a health institution is in a situation whereby there is an oversupply of health service it means that there is inflation in the healthcare cost (supplier-induced demand). Oversupply may lead to insufficient provision of quality health care by unprofessional individuals. But when the organization experiences an undersupply, it means that health needs will not be met as adequately as they should be. Reducing the gap of service demand can take place in three forms: The organization can access the data of their current service operation.

This is known as service utilization method. This approach is commonly used to define the understudy of satisfying demand. Secondly, ratio estimation can be carried out to determine the workforce to population ratio that exists in the market. The ratio estimates can be used to make future estimates for service provision based on the estimated results recorded per unit given of the entire population. Thirdly, an assessment can be done to determine the economic demand for health service. This assessment comprises of the current and the future circumstances of political social and economic accounts. It depends on how consumers and the service providers will behave as per the given circumstances (Goodman et al 2009, 245; Krumholz et al 2006, 1440).

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Imbalance of demand and supply in the health sector is usually caused by the fluctuation of market supplies and demand in the market (Hussey 2009, 2110). Sometimes the imbalance may occur due to a decrease in the supply of service delivery or vice versa. An example is a time when practitioners like the nurses have to complete their education and join the market that demands their skills it is evident that these workers take much time to complete their health education hence the available supply of health service is reduced (Ayanian 2009, 669). It is therefore important for health institutions to undertake gap analysis because it is through gap analysis that managers can manage the demand and supply issues.

It provides a measure between a business current performance and its future performance. Quality management in health organizations at any given level provides a platform to improve effectiveness in the provision of better health care demands (Gerteis et al 1993, 361). People today are aware of their right to better health care and the increase in expectation of higher service response from the health service sector and its professional workforce is expected to rise. Demand for better health care impacts greatly on the provision of health services.

Another major challenge in health care delivery systems as stated by the Association of Academic Health Centers (2008) is public disillusionment with service providers. Grumbach et al (2001, 394) point out greed and waste as the main reasons as to why the public is dissatisfied with how health services are being provided today. The public is tired of having to pay high costs for health only to get under quality services because of maybe of lack of workforce or unskilled practitioners. Those managing health institutions are usually known to be concerned about workforce shortages not considering that sometimes the workforce might have too many practitioners of similar status. That is probably the reason why there are times when the demand for health service is slightly lower than the supply of the service (Buerhaus et al 2009, 661).

All senior managers should show their willingness and commitment to providing the public with good and quality health care services. They are obligated to ensure that even their juniors are aware of their principles and goals so that they can work together to ensure that they meet their target consumer satisfaction. Those health service providers who understand that there are impacts of having quality health care services provided to their consumers will have great advantages in the future. Healthcare systems are advised to make efforts in trying to understand what implication good service delivery and meeting of service demand have in the growth of the health care sector.

Healthcare providers need to employ measures that would help in reducing gaps or oversupply both at the three levels; local (institutional), national, and international. This approach calls for major reforms in the sector, such as increasing the process of decentralization and making more decisions that involve the communities at the local level, also by transforming the supply-demand funds this is the money that extends for those that need beneficiaries, and also using public and private competition as a way to deliver defined basic health services to satisfy the demand of the patients. The effectiveness of health care services always depends on the extent to which the needs and priorities of the individuals and local communities are satisfied.

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