Healthcare Workforce Competition Is Heating Up

Recently, LinkedIn released a monthly report listing the top 10 jobs in terms of active recruitment. At this point, it should come as no surprise that healthcare jobs made the list, with nurses in the number one spot and physicians in the number six spot.

In fact, the social media site notes that healthcare’s year-over-year job growth exceeds 54 percent through April. That means there are a lot of job openings and a lot of unfilled positions. Looking ahead, the Association of American Medical Colleges also predicts a dramatic imbalance of physician supply versus demand, resulting in a staggering shortage of as many as 139,000 physicians over the next 20 years or so.

The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed the healthcare labor market — an industry workforce that was already having serious supply-side issues. Factors such as burnout, retirement, and general dissatisfaction have only exacerbated the significant attrition rates.

This phenomenon is endemic and transcends all levels and hierarchies within the healthcare vertical. As the economy recovers, talent is exiting from entry level roles as well as from the executive boardroom.

Not only is the supply of skilled healthcare workers low, increased demand for this valuable talent is also coming from nontraditional categories, such as large employers who want to keep their employees healthy and innovators who want to break into the healthcare market with disruptive solutions. This urgent need to fill new positions is further drawing down the critically depleted talent pool. Organizations in technology, engineering, retail, and other sectors are competing with hospitals, clinics, and medical practices for qualified candidates.

Many of these emerging jobs focus on keeping employees safe and healthy, and employers are offering attractive packages that lure away skilled members from historic institutions that provide care for their communities. These nontraditional sources of competition are specifically seeking executive-level leaders to rapidly implement change in a number of areas:

  • Preventing the next pandemic
  • Managing healthcare costs for the enterprise
  • Improving worker productivity through good health
  • Launching new lines of business related to healthcare

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New Organizations Now in the Healthcare Business

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders were already questioning where and how quality healthcare would be delivered. Indeed, the shift from traditional institutions to more community-based, in-home services began several years ago, fueled by cost-control strategies as well as consumer preferences. The pandemic has only served to catalyze that migration, and many organizations that had been considering entering the market pre-coronavirus have accelerated their forward motion.

Some examples include:

  • Amazon — now offering its home-grown telehealth platform to other employers
  • Microsoft — digging deeper into artificial intelligence tools that can support physician record-keeping
  • CVS — planning to sell individual insurance plans in 2022 while separately launching a telehealth initiative for behavioral healthcare
  • Uber — creating partnerships with health organizations to offer patients rides to medical appointments

Incredible opportunity now exists to disrupt the industry with emerging innovation, especially as it relates to care delivery modalities, health promotion and education, and population health. This includes some very large players, as noted above, but equally impressive is the recent interest and subsequent influx of revenue from private-equity investors.

Investors in many cases represent net-new healthcare jobs. Firms typically look for executive leaders with a wide range of experience who can execute an ambitious strategy in a short amount of time. And they’re willing to pay rather well to attract the best talent. That leaves traditional healthcare entities with even fewer candidates to consider and even more competition.

Let the Talent Wars Begin Again

If you’re not already lying awake at night wondering where your leaders may be going or where you might source new strength in talent, you possibly will be in the coming months. The confluence of critically low supply, increased demand, accelerated care transformation, and new market entrants will likely spur a renewed war on talent in healthcare, greater than any in recent memory.

The leadership skills required to be successful in tomorrow’s healthcare environment will likely not be predicated by what made healthcare leaders in the past. Further, it is likely many of tomorrow’s healthcare leaders will come from outside the industry as the evolution progresses — financiers, entrepreneurs, and tech gurus are just a few of the candidates that will join the ranks of physician executives and business directors.

As you consider your talent needs, give significant thought to the balance of leadership skills versus technical strengths and competency versus achievements. Open-mindedness will help you broaden your search criteria and connect you to a deeper pool of viable candidates.

Whether you are looking for your next strategic leader to drive business forward, require expertise in an emerging market, or need assistance in a succession plan, Canton & Company can be your specialized partner in achieving success. We dive deep on your key drivers of success and link them to the top talent for today and tomorrow. Let’s start a conversation and see where it leads. Contact Canton & Company.