You Live Until Age 123. Who’s Treating You?

A new healthcare staffing forecast is out … and while it doesn’t hold any surprises, it does offer a generally rosy view of the future. The “Healthcare Staffing Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2023-2028” looks at factors driving demand and some differences between North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. (North America being the dominant player in the staffing market.)

Let’s start with what everyone wants to know: the global healthcare staffing market size hit $39.2 Billion in 2022 and will climb to $56.9 Billion by 2028. So yes, we can expect steady growth – and here’s why.

3 Reasons the Healthcare Staffing Industry is About to Boom

More seniors needing care

The Silent Generation is the longest lived in history. The Baby Boomers, the biggest senior generation in history, is just reaching their 70s. A fun bit of speculation: Given that each generation gains a longer life expectancy, more people are expected to reach their 120s in the future. Experts predict that the last member of the Silent Generation might live until 2067, the last Boomer until 2088. The last Gen Xer might live until 2108, and the last Millennial until 2132. While it’s unlikely that most people will reach such advanced ages, it is clear that many patients will require care for age-related conditions and chronic illnesses for decades. The health systems of the future will likely require provider networks to keep up with demand.

Continuing staff shortages

Physicians and nurses are getting older too. By 2034, experts predict a significant shortfall of primary care physicians and specialists. 55% of nurses are age 50 or older, with retirement looming just a few years away for many. Pandemic burnout – or just burnout in general – is an ongoing conversation, with more providers choosing to limit their hours. Some are exploring teaching, consulting, and other transitions to give themselves more work-life balance – creating demand for staffing agencies and provider networks to fill critical positions.

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic

Even if COVID stays manageable, its legacy has permanently changed the healthcare industry. Hospitals have learned how critical it is to have a skilled and agile workforce on tap. The disparities highlighted in underserved communities have laid bare the need for experienced physicians and nurses in those areas. Staffing models must be nimbler to ensure continuity of care – and no one wants to be caught off guard by the next pandemic, of course.

How will healthcare staffing change over the next 4 years?

Apologies in advance for sounding like a broken record – but this report matches up with everything we’ve observed ourselves. Those dynamics and changes include:

  • More technology-driven solutions. This includes making recruitment and placement processes more efficient, creating a smoother clinician experience, and innovating to address staffing challenges. Some of this will be due to SaaS platforms, while AI will improve documentation and automate some processes that currently eat up providers’ time.
  • More strategic partnerships. Health systems will look for partners like Tribal Health who go beyond mere staffing services to provide healthcare workforce solutions like consulting, direct hire, practice management, multi-specialty provider networks. Essentially, client facilities want one-stop-shopping, rather than navigating different needs with a grab bag of agencies.
  • More professional development options. Again, like Tribal Health, companies will invest in their people and provide continuing education, training, and tuition coverage for degree programs. This is a marked change from past staffing agencies, who simply onboarded any qualified professional and dropped them into a healthcare workplace. Staffing companies and provider networks are finally recognizing that their people are their best asset and investing in their careers.

We don’t have a crystal ball – but we believe the above predictions are on the nose. What this means for healthcare professionals: that their career options will be flexible and prolific well into the future. Physicians, nurses, and medical assistants can choose the work model that works best for them, whether that’s locums, providing consulting services, traveling, teaching, or some combination. Ideally that bright future will translate to better patient outcomes as well.

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