The American Hospital Association is sponsoring a comprehensive analysis of the work force needs of integrated delivery systems operating in a reformed national healthcare environment, MODERN HEALTHCARE has learned.
In addition to detailing those needs, the project, dubbed "Work Force Issues Associated with the Formation of Integrated Community Health Networks," also will examine the obstacles in meeting those goals and make recommendations on how to eliminate such barriers. The results will be incorporated into the association's own national healthcare reform platform.
The project will be conducted by an outside consulting firm under contract with the association. The AHA sent requests for proposals to a number of human resources consultants on March 19. Consultants' proposals were due back to the AHA on April 1, and the association was scheduled to award a contract on April 8.
However, that deadline has been pushed back to about mid-May because of the comprehensiveness of the proposals the AHA received, said Richard Wade, AHA's senior vice president for communications. He said the association sent RFPs to about 10 consulting firms, and four responded. He also said the dollar amounts of the bids varied, but the association would disclose the contract amount when it's awarded.
The project is scheduled to be completed by the August meeting of the AHA's board of trustees.
In its request for proposals, the AHA described work force issues as the "fifth pillar" in the association's national healthcare reform plan. The first four pillars are universal access to care, a restructured delivery system, managing within fixed resources and direct accountability to the community served.
"AHA's healthcare reform vision requires a coherent and comprehensive approach to ensure the availability of physicians, nurses and other health professionals that are needed to provide access to care for everyone," the AHA said. "AHA's work force goals are adequate supply, efficient use of healthcare professionals and appropriate distribution of healthcare professionals."
According to the AHA, the healthcare delivery system of the future will need a much different work force than the one that traditionally has staffed the nation's hospitals. The association said the work force that staffs integrated delivery systems will need new management, clinical and financial skills that cut across delivery settings (See chart).
In addition to overcoming such issues as shortages of certain practitioners, "turf" concerns, credentialing and unionization, a major issue for hospitals will be who'll pay for the retraining of the existing work force and the education of the future work force, the AHA said. The project will identify financing strategies.