Data Literacy: The Key to Solving the Healthcare Talent Crisis

One in five healthcare workers have quit their jobs since February of last year. Meanwhile, another 31 percent are considering leaving due to burn-out. Additionally, nearly half of all Registered Nurses (RNs) are over the age of 50, and over a quarter of all US physicians are at least 60, indicating that a massive share of the healthcare workforce will retire over the next ten to twenty years. The rate at which healthcare is losing skilled workers far outpaces the rate of incoming talent, elevating this so-called “talent shortage” to a full-scale talent crisis.

Healthcare Talent Needed By 2025

Source: Mercer

Without an influx of qualified healthcare professionals, hospital systems risk numerous quality issues, including:

  • Medical errors
  • Lapses in continuity of care
  • Increased instances of hospital-associated infections (HAIs)
  • Data security vulnerabilities

Harnessing Technology to Improve Healthcare

Simply put, you cannot hire what does not exist. As open positions outnumber available workers and the employment market becomes increasingly competitive, healthcare organizations will need to get more comfortable with leveraging existing talent and technologies to do more operationally. This is where digital transformation and data intelligence will either make or break America’s literal lifeline.

Healthcare IT teams rose to the occasion last year in the face of an unprecedented health crisis to ensure the continuity of care through technology infrastructure. Telehealth, remote diagnostics, COVID patient data exchanges, supply chain management tools…these digital health systems proved that anything is possible with the right technology – but there’s a catch.

The wealth of data generated daily by advanced digital health tools and systems harbors all the insight needed to improve operational, clinical, and financial outcomes, but without the human power to collect, process, store, analyze, and interpret data, it serves little value.

Healthcare Has a Tech Talent Gap

Like every other US industry, a massive skills gap in health data analytics will likely stunt the progression of vital advances in modern medicine. Furthermore, an estimated 80 percent of healthcare data is unstructured, which means making data accessible and actionable at all levels throughout the care continuum may prove to be healthcare’s greatest challenge yet.

What data-driven hospitals look like:

  • Faster access to critical information
  • Less medical mistakes
  • Preventive care planning
  • Accurate staffing & admissions management
  • Highly accurate facilities surveillance
  • Better diagnostics & treatments
  • Predictive healthcare

Data Analytics In Action

According to the Journal of Big Data, hospitals that implement data analytics may see a more than 25% reduction in overall costs due to better space management, diagnosis and disease predictions, lower hospital readmission rates, and shorter patient hospital stays. 

Texas Children’s Hospital increased its revenue by $8.3 million and added more than 53,000 appointments to its caseload annually using data analytics to optimize space utilization (Health Catalyst). 

The University of Chicago Medical Center implemented data analytics technology to centralize and correlate data, resulting in a 15 to 20% reduction in cardiac arrests and faster turnover time for operating rooms, which amounted to an estimated $600,000 cost savings per year (TIBCO). 

In other case studies reported on by Managed Healthcare Executive, hospitals in Florida and Kansas City used predictive analytics to cut readmission rates by almost half and shorten the average length of stay for certain patient populations to reduce annual costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The time for internal training is NOW.

If organizations are banking on “digital native” generations to effectively harness data intelligence, they might be waiting a while. According to the Future Health Index 2020 report, 35 percent of younger healthcare providers (under the age of 40) do not know how to use patient data to inform patient care. Another 35 percent admit that they feel overwhelmed by the amount of digital patient data at their disposal.

Data literacy can significantly improve how hospitals staff floors, stock inventory, and provide care, but only if it exists as core content in education and professional training. Given the nature of the healthcare profession, it is unrealistic to assume that workers will leave a job in public service to pursue technical training. Alternatively, healthcare organizations can build and deploy internal training to upskill existing employees and effectively cultivate the data literacy needed to optimize limited resources and expand care capabilities.

With the right partner in technical education, data professional training programs can be tailored to meet the unique demands of the healthcare landscape. For example, adjusting the “intensity” of a training program to avoid additional worker burn-out or implementing a curriculum that prepares learners to put new skills to immediate use in healthcare-specific applications.

Contact Stage 3 Talent to learn more about how we build and deploy full-scale data literacy programs that deliver job-ready data skills for immediate utilization.

We are an elite team of instructional designers, technical writers, software developers, and subject matter experts

with the connections, resources, and practical experience to help you execute all aspects of a world-class IT skills training program.