Five forces that will drive healthcare transformation

By Bill Borden

With the World Health Organization projecting a global shortage of 18 million health workers, KPMG Global Health Practice Chairman Dr. Mark Britnell examines this issue in his book “Human: Solving the Global Work Force Crisis in Healthcare.” 

 Britnell breaks down how workforce shortages will affect different nations and some of the policy and technological solutions that can be applied to this problem. In the U.S., the issue particularly acute. 

Nearly a third of nurses will reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing predicts that a million new nurses will be needed by 2020. Compounding that issue is a shortage of faculty to train nurses.

While there is a debate about the scope of a physician shortage, many parts of the United States are underserved and lack medical specialists.

The United States presently spends nearly 18 percent of its economic output on healthcare.  Outcomes tied to this spending are so-so, lagging many nations in life expectancy, infant mortality, and overall healthcare coverage.

 So now America’s healthcare system needs to address the workforce issues in combination with the relative lack of value from healthcare spending.

Britnell’s book outlines five forces that will drive healthcare transformation that is necessary to address this emerging crisis.

  • Virtual channels, such as telehealth and wearable technology, will leave patients depending upon less face-to-face consultation, while improving productivity of existing staff.
  • Primary care needs to become the undisputed leader for preventive care. Technology will increase the capabilities to direct care to the patients who need it most.
  • Patients and caregivers will need to do more for themselves with the support of primary care. We are seeing an evolution in care delivery with retail-oriented settings, such as urgent care, and as pharmacies focus on wellness and patient training.
  • New integrated— or accountable— care organizations will become the norm, especially when it comes to coordinating care between hospitals and referring physicians and clinicians with the help of artificial intelligence in combination with disease management for patients with chronic ailments.
  • Hospitals now need to catch up to other industries by delivering Six Sigma quality, which will change safety and “customer service.” AI, robotics, blockchain and other innovations have the ability to revamp scheduling and less variation in quality to make care more patient-centered.

With these five dynamics, productivity among clinical staff could improve by 20 percent. We will still need more healthcare staff, but this approach can alleviate the looming crisis while getting patients to the most appropriate care setting.

“If the (UK's National Health Service) and other health systems want to retain people throughout their working lives," Britnell says, "they must support them through life events – parenthood, deaths, older age – and every stage of their career.”

To learn more or to arrange an interview with Britnell, please contact Bill Borden.


Media kit

According to an article that Mark Britnell wrote for the The Guardian (U.K.), healthcare staffers are “feeling undervalued, overworked and demoralized.” Britnell’s book suggests that health systems must support the workforce through life events to meet legitimate expectations of a healthy and happy relationship with work. Access the article here.

Mark Britnell biography.

Bill Borden

Bill Borden

Director, Healthcare & Life Sciences Comm., KPMG US

+1 201-505-6351

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