AI, telehealth could help address hospital workforce challenges

Technologies such as telehealth and artificial intelligence could help health systems combat professional shortages in hospitals, according to a report on key workforce strategic planning trends released by the American Hospital Association.

Telehealth in particular could be useful to providers as health care is increasingly delivered outside of traditional settings and evolves to team-based models of care, according to AHA.

The report noted hospitals and health systems are deploying a number of new care models and technologies to supplement the workforce in supporting this shift.

In addition to team-based models combining physicians with advanced practice providers and nurses, the other major elements are AI, telehealth and other emerging technologies like connected and cognitive devices.

However, while hospital and health system leaders see AI as perhaps the most effective path to a more productive, efficient and higher-performing health care organization, realizing AI’s full potential will take a collective effort ranging from health IT to successfully integrate into the organization’s daily operations.

These were the results from an earlier study conducted by the AHA providing hospital and health system leaders an overview of the health care AI landscape, including the common use cases for AI in four broad areas: administrative, financial, operational and clinical.

The report also cautioned that hospital and health systems considerer ways to integrate AI need to realized that its deployment would change the nature of how staff work at a hospital or health system, and impact the skills or competencies needed by people working there.

In the AHA’s most recent workforce trends report, electroceuticals – a new category of therapeutic agents which act by targeting the neural circuits of organs, along with targeted and personalized medicine, robotics, 3D printing, big data and analytics, blockchain and automation were among the other technologies cited.

“Labor is the largest single cost for most hospitals, and the workforce is essential to the critical mission of providing life-saving care,” the AHA report noted. “Although there are challenges, there also are opportunities to improve care, motivate and re-skill staff, and modernize processes and business models that reflect the shift toward providing the right care, at the right time, in the right setting.”

Among the other top trends affecting workforce strategic planning singled out in the report: the development of a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as financial pressures fueled by the high rate of projected growth in employment of several health care professions.

Burnout and workplace violence – which occurs at a higher rate in healthcare than in the general workforce – were additional factors the AHA listed in its report.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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