“The burden of expectation to transform healthcare lies on this group’s shoulders, but too often their views are not widely understood,” said Jan Kimpen, Philips chief medical officer. “Their responses are revealing and inspiring. These younger healthcare professionals are dedicated to their patients and their careers and are driven by a desire to help others. “We stand at a critical point in healthcare,” said Kimpen.
“The world’s healthcare systems are facing unprecedented challenges from both growing and aging populations, and an increasingly burnt-out workforce. “Physicians, nurses and support staff are juggling the challenges of patient care with increased administration, while managers deal with staffing issues and increasing pressure to reduce costs. Those working in healthcare face professional and personal stress.
“But there is opportunity,” said Kimpen. “The current generation of younger professionals will soon make up the majority of our global healthcare workforce. They have the responsibility – and the privilege – of delivering the changes that are needed to ensure healthcare systems are fit for purpose. Value-based care is the ultimate aspiration of this, delivered through the Quadruple Aim of better health outcomes, improved patient and staff experience, and lower cost of care.
“But they are concerned by the administrative demands that deflect from their core duties and frustrated by what they perceive as the slow pace of technological change. These are warning signs that need to be addressed at all levels to avoid paying the price later. We cannot afford for these talented professionals to become disengaged or we risk losing their skills and commitment to the sector,” warned Kimpen.
EXPLORING THE GAPS IN HEALTHCARE EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Younger healthcare professionals see four key gaps in their careers relating to: skills, knowledge, data and expectations:
- The skills gap
Highly trained younger healthcare professionals are unprepared for non-clinical demands, potentially leading to burnout. Forty-four per cent of participants said their medical education had not prepared them at all for business administration tasks.
- The knowledge gap
Hospitals and healthcare practices are increasingly shifting towards value-based care models. However, the vast majority of younger healthcare professionals had limited or no knowledge of value-based care prior to taking this survey. This indicates that, despite its growing adoption, the concept is not being covered in medical schools or during on-the-job training. Concerningly 78% of participants only knew it by name, a little, or nothing at all. Reliance on volume-based metrics and the lack of understanding of value-based care hinders its widespread adoption.
- The data gap
Younger healthcare professionals are digital natives, but many still need support to use data to strengthen clinical performance. Thirty-five per cent of participants said they don’t know how to use digital patient data to inform patient care. Moreover, the volume of data they encounter in daily practice can be overwhelming.
- The career expectation gap
Worryingly, many participants (41%) feel a gap between the reality of their career and what they had hoped it would be. The danger is that these disenchanted professionals will leave healthcare prematurely. Appropriate training in technology can help to reduce this career expectation gap.
HARNESSING TECHNOLOGY TO HELP TRANSFORM HEALTHCARE
Younger healthcare professionals have a positive yet pragmatic attitude to technology. They acknowledge its potential to ease their administrative workload, resulting in a reduction in work-related stress. And, with almost three-quarters of younger healthcare professionals regularly experiencing work-related stress that could ultimately lead to them leaving the profession, it’s vital that technology is harnessed appropriately.
Most younger healthcare professionals see digital health technologies as tools to enhance outcomes (74%) and improve patients’ experiences (79%). Seventy-eight per cent of participants also agreed that the societal benefits of improved patient care from the use of anonymised health data outweigh the perceived data privacy concerns of the individual.
CREATING THE IDEAL HEALTHCARE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
The next generation of healthcare professionals is well prepared for clinical practice and the responsibility that comes with caring for patients. But this new generation will not stand for the current situation in workplace culture and hours. They are clear in their desire for a good work-life balance and flexibility, and collaboration within the workplace.
Without a collaborative and empowering workplace culture to underpin uptake, the long-term adoption of digital health technologies will fail. Hospitals and organisations that prioritise a culture of collaboration – across data, technology and workplace culture – and appropriate technologies will be more likely to attract and retain staff.
“Global healthcare systems are under strain,” said Kimpen. “But this challenge can bring opportunity – through collaboration, sharing initiatives, and the use of technology and data. “The coming years will see increased emphasis on delivering continuous care outside the hospital and clinic walls. We will also see a push to explore innovative reimbursement models that realise both more value and better outcomes for patients, with technology and data playing a crucial role.
“The valuable intelligence younger healthcare professionals have shared with us can be used to maximise the opportunities they offer and, by doing so, shape the future of healthcare. “Change won’t happen overnight, but the insights provided by this generation put healthcare leaders in a stronger position to tackle the high costs and waste in the system.”