The healthcare workforce deficit problem has become worse as demand is outpacing supply. Healthcare workers are overburdened, and organizations cannot hire or train their way out of this situation. These are the headwinds they are facing:
Demand is rising: The next 10 years will see more 60–90-year-olds, the highest utilizers of healthcare services. Health systems are not equipped to serve this growing population.
Capacity is stretched: There are not enough clinicians to care for patients. An estimated 6.4 million physicians are needed to meet goals for universal health coverage across the globe. 
Costs are higher: Health systems have had to increase base pay, add incentives and use costly agency resources. It is impossible to sustain this downward pressure as costs are already on the rise.
The workforce is aging: The shortage of healthcare workers will worsen as more retire. Rising demand and a smaller pool of resources put affordable, equitable and high-quality access under threat.
It’s an unsustainable situation, one that can’t be solved through workforce hiring or training alone. A continuous, dynamic reinvention of care delivery is required – a Total Enterprise Reinvention. It becomes a unifying force across every function. It requires new skills and an increased depth of understanding of technology, change management, communication and how to leverage partners to achieve results faster. Talent strategy and people impact are central to reinvention, not an afterthought. Reinventors that empower their workforce with tools that make their jobs easier, and free clinicians to do what they are trained to do, can build resilience in the organization.
Reinventing care delivery from the core
Addressing the clinician shortage for the long term requires continuous, dynamic reinvention to reimagine work and the workforce, enable technology and transform how care is delivered. Accenture has identified four imperatives that health leaders need to prioritize to reinvent care delivery:
Transform work experiences from the top
Change starts by reinventing care so that healthcare workers have greater wellbeing and better work experiences that leave them happier, healthier and more productive. Accenture’s “Net Better Off” framework quantifies human wellbeing across six dimensions. If leaders don’t pay attention to these dimensions, they risk losing healthcare workers with important skills to other sectors. Many healthcare executives need to develop a resilient, sustainable agile management culture that expects and embraces change.
Rethink teams and work models to increase capacity
Transforming teams to successfully operate in different environments or configurations can increase capacity. It will also drive efficiency and improve job satisfaction, which is part of leaving workers Net Better Off. Reconfiguring task distribution can allow clinicians to work at the top of their license while other work is given to other colleagues, machines or even home caregivers. Technology enables care models and empowers patients and teams to operate in different configurations and environments.
Blend technology and human ingenuity
Moving to a model that taps into the combined power of technology and human ingenuity can alleviate the pressure on people and, in many cases, allow them to better serve patients. But health systems will still need more clinicians to do the work only they are trained to do. Recruitment processes should be reinvented as well to reduce sourcing costs and streamline onboarding to get qualified people in the door faster and more affordably. Analytics can even help to predict supply and demand so that health systems can put resources where they are needed most.
Use technology to reinvent care
The digital technologies that are brought to bear in the metaverse, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality, allow clinicians to transcend time and space to simulate interactions or practice procedures, such as surgical training. These technologies can also enable life-like virtual therapeutics that empower patients to perform self-care. Accenture’s Digital Health Technology Vision 2022 report found that 81% of healthcare executives expect the metaverse to have a positive impact on the healthcare industry. Not only does automating or shifting tasks to technology save time for clinicians, but it also saves money for health systems.
Accenture research estimates that 70% of healthcare worker’s tasks could be reinvented by technology augmentation or automation
Stabilize. Reposition. Reinvent.
Reinventing care delivery and workforce models takes time, but significant value can be unlocked in the short term. Below are suggestions for where to start initiating change immediately through stabilization, in the medium term by repositioning and in the long term to holistically reinvent care delivery.
Humanizing change requires making improvements that leave workers net better off, enhancing skilling opportunities and normalizing change through new operating structures that support greater flexibility and adaptability.
Transforming teams and models begins with reconfiguring task distribution and enabling remote work, using analytics to improve experiences and outcomes, and empowering teams to be agents of change.
Maintaining workforce capacity involves reducing attrition and cost to begin solving for the clinician shortage, reinventing work models to promote skill development and building an agile culture with flexible talent pools that can adapt to change.
Adopting a technology + human ingenuity model allows the organization to use technology to automate and optimize work, improves interoperability to reduce silos and increase speed, and helps build technology-enabled teams that work in connected environments.
Reinventing care delivery for better access, experiences and outcomes
These are unprecedented times in healthcare that require carefully structured reform initiatives, and innovative solutions. Business as usual will no longer work as the clinician shortage reaches a breaking point. Together, we can reinvent care delivery, using technology to enable agility for caregivers while delivering to patients the services they need, how and when they need them.