With US healthcare costs reaching 17.9 percent of 2016 GDP1, how are you ensuring your workforce is positioned for success in the intelligent economy? Here are four areas for immediate attention based on trends described in the latest Health Talent Check-Up.

Digital enables the end of the healthcare talent shortage

A key component in closing the healthcare talent shortage by 2030 is for organizations to reduce administrative work to refocus healthcare employees on high-impact patient interactions. Accenture Strategy estimates 25 percent of existing tasks in today’s healthcare workplace will be automated by 20302; but the challenge for providers remains balancing investment required for new digital technologies and maintaining profitability in core business operations. A case study from analysis of a U.S. academic medical center recently found that 11 percent of annual salary cost could be saved through automation3, creating a compelling case for increased investment in robotic process automation and artificial intelligence.

Virtual health requires top notch employee experience

Accenture Strategy has forecast that 50 percent of healthcare services will be provided virtually by 20304, largely driven by the increase in consumer digital fluency. With 58 percent of seniors in the U.S. now online5, millennials and seniors are equally open to trying out tele-health visits.6 At the same time, consumers are 3x more likely to value patient reviews over ratings from a health plan7, so providers find themselves competing to improve patient care and experience. Employee experience is becoming a key lever to retain top talent and enable consumer experience end-to-end. While employee experience is important across sectors, it is a matter of life or death for healthcare providers: nurse engagement is the #1 variable correlating to mortality in hospitals.8

Demand for healthcare services is increasing

Image shows the increase in demand for healthcare services
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Automation can save you money and elevate your workforce

Digital technologies will augment the healthcare future workforce to improve patient outcomes and experience. For example, a natural language processing AI system can automatically capture notes for each appointment, instead of the manual effort to write them up afterwards. In the back office, automation software will support real-time processing of routine estimates and insurance verification. Financial service representatives can be redeployed to provide patient billing services as patients are discharged from the hospital. Overall, the market for AI in healthcare is projected to increase 10x by just 2021, with significant implications for the nature of work. For instance, Accenture Strategy predicts that by 2030 1.6 million payer and provider administrative roles will be phased out—and 523,000 new tech and data roles will emerge.9 In addition, saving time by automating routine tasks creates the opportunity for healthcare organizations to increase patient flow, redeploy resources to address changing consumer needs, and elevate the employee experience to become a leading healthcare employer while directly impacting care quality and mortality.10

Robots are coming and skills aren’t yet changing

Globally, six out of 10 jobs will have at least 30 percent of tasks completed by robots (e.g., chatbots, automation, AI) in the next 10 years, while only four out of 10 healthcare jobs will reach this level of automation.11 The future of healthcare requires a digitally enabled workforce to match the pace of digital innovation; however, Accenture research indicates only half of business leaders have a strategy for digital talent development.12 This finding is even more relevant for healthcare providers, as 50 percent of nurses are over age 5013 and therefore, not considered digital natives. Fortunately, 71 percent of healthcare employees are proactively learning digital skills14, and learning new skills through a digital medium such as virtual reality could compound these benefits. Healthcare providers should devote resources now to ensure employees are equipped with the skills to succeed in a rapidly changing digital landscape.

Accenture research finds 84 percent of all managers believe partnering with AI will make them more effective and their work more interesting.15 Nevertheless, an unfortunate disconnect currently exists as 50 percent of corporate leaders believe their people lack the skills to adopt AI, but only 3 percent are significantly investing in AI training and reskilling programs.16 Healthcare providers that adopt digital technologies and re-engineer work accordingly can gain a competitive advantage.

1 Accenture Strategy, Healthcare Talent Shortage: Fact or Fiction?, 2018
2 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
3 Accenture, Hospital of the Future Research, 2018
4 Pew Research Center
5 American Well Tele-health
6 Accenture Strategy, Global Consumer Pulse Research, 2017
7 Gallup, Inc.
8 Accenture, Digital Disruption: Future of Work
9 National Council of State Boards of Nursing
10 Accenture, Digital Disruption: Future of Work
11 Accenture, Large Academic Medical Center Case Study
12 Frost & Sullivan
13 The Brookings Institution
14 Accenture, Intelligent Machines and the Workforce of the Future
15 Accenture, Reworking the Revolution, 2018
16 Accenture, How to Prepare for the Unpredictable?

Stacy Blanchard

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization

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