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8 Healthcare HR Forecasts Reviewed for Accuracy

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 27, 2010

Journalists love closure. I started the year with eight predictions for healthcare HR in 2010. So, I thought I'd end the year with a look back to see how well – or poorly – I did as a prognosticator.

Prediction 1: "The healthcare sector will continue to see job growth."
Verdict:Correct!

I will confess that this was hardly a difficult prediction. The healthcare sector has never seen long-term job contraction. We won't have the final numbers for all of 2010 until early January. But it's safe to say that the healthcare sector, once again, was a major driver for job creation in this country, as it has been for decades. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for the first 11 months of 2010 show that healthcare job creation was significantly slower than it was during the middle of the decade. However, the rate of healthcare job growth in 2010 has nearly doubled the historically low rate of job growth in 2009. Look for this hiring trend to continue into 2011.

Prediction 2: "The hunt for qualified healthcare IT workers will intensify."
Verdict: Depends.

There was a lot of talk last year about where hospitals, physicians' offices, and other providers would find the people with the clinical and technical expertise to operate these complete interoperable electronic health records. Some providers are having more luck than are others. Generally, rural providers are finding it more challenging than are their colleagues in urban areas, many of whom report a glut of qualified help. That shouldn't be too surprising because that dynamic holds true on just about every other healthcare staffing issue, where rural providers are struggling to attract qualified people. Plus, the recession is making hospital employment more attractive to people who see healthcare as more resistant to economic doldrums.

Prediction 3: "Wash your hands!"
Verdict: Sort of.

I suggested last January that HR would take a significant role in improving employee awareness about the importance of hand washing. I'm not so sure that has proven to be the case. However, hospital/healthcare-acquired infections is still a huge issue, and two recent and alarming reports suggest that the healthcare sector has made little if any progress in preventing tens of thousands of hospital deaths will ensure that the issue remains on the front burner in 2011.  Besides, if your HR folks aren't taking an active role in hand washing campaigns, they ought to be.

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