AT A GLANCE

  • Of the 242,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy in February 2016, the healthcare industry contributed the most with 57,000 new positions; recent reports indicate that the healthcare industry is poised to become the largest sector in the U.S.
  • The BLS says that the basic drivers to healthcare employment growth are related to demographics, including a growing, aging, more chronically ill population and also advances in healthcare technology
  • As older physicians are aging and exiting from full-time work, they’re beginning to work in locum tenens assignments, creating both supply and demand

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April 01, 2016

Industry Highlight: Healthcare Index – April 2016

The U.S. economy added a better than expected 242,000 jobs in February, and the healthcare industry contributed the most to these job gains, adding 57,000 new positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hospitals have added 181,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

Recent reports indicate that the healthcare industry is poised to become the largest sector in the U.S. Over 2015, the healthcare industry has added over 480,00 jobs. Additionally, as healthcare costs increase, nine of the top 10 jobs of 2016, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking, are in this industry, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and anesthesiologists. And as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, more than half of the fastest-growing jobs are in health care.

Healthcare & Social Assistance Employment Index

Healthcare & Social Assistance Employment Index

Source: BLS

Employment Growth

According to the BLS, healthcare occupations nationwide are projected to grow 26 percent from 2012 to 2022, adding about 4.1 million new jobs. Among this, growth in employment in offices of health practitioners accounted for 1.2 million, hospitals for 800,000 new jobs, and the balance in home care, long-term care and other ambulatory services. Home health care is forecast to experience the most growth in jobs of any sector at 60 percent from 2012 to 2022. Most of the growth in hospital jobs is expected to occur in occupations such as nursing or hospital administration, with incomes in excess of $60,000.

Why will healthcare jobs continue to grow? As per the BLS, the basic drivers are related to demographics. This includes a growing, aging, more chronically ill population providing fuel for healthcare demand. Also driving growth is advances in healthcare technology that is creating new procedures, tools and interventions.

IT Jobs in Healthcare

2015 was a year of healthcare data breach in the United States. The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is working closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to address health care security. These investigations are leading to a growing demand for cybersecurity infrastructure and jobs. Healthcare entities of all sizes are searching for skilled personnel; according to Modern Healthcare there were more than 50,000 positions posted in 2014 requiring a specialized certification, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Meanwhile, there are fewer than 68,000 individuals in the U.S. who have obtained this certification, and the healthcare sector is competing against all other industries for these individuals.

The Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) shows that top areas for this talent include California, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Michigan.

Locum Tenens Physicians

There are several changes in the industry in the temporary physician contingent workforce segment, known as locum tenens. As older physicians are aging and exiting from full-time work, they’re beginning to work in locum tenens assignments, creating both supply and demand. Many healthcare facilities are increasingly using locum tenens physicians to fill in until permanent doctors are found or to address staff turnover. In instances where healthcare facilities do not have enough doctors, a widespread challenge due to physician shortage, locum tenens physicians are used to maintain service and revenue.

Typical Working Area of Locum Tenens Physicians

Typical Working Area of Locum Tenens Physicians

Source: Staff Care

Healthcare facilities pay an average daily rate for the services of locum tenens physicians, and this rate can range from several hundred dollars to over $1,500, depending on the specialty.

The majority of locum tenens physicians (92.5 percent) have worked in a permanent practice, but a growing number (7.5 percent) indicate that they have only worked on a locum tenens basis. Only 16.2 percent of locum tenens physicians surveyed in 2014 identified themselves as being in primary care. Approximately 73 percent of healthcare facility managers say they use at least one locum tenens physician in a typical month, while 18 percent said they use four or more.

Locum Tenens Demand, by Specialty

Locum Tenens Demand, by Specialty

Source: Staff Care

According to a Staff Care study, the biggest benefits of using locum tenens physicians include allowing for continual treatment of patients, immediate availability of professional help, prevention of revenue loss, and prevention of existing staff burnout. Meanwhile, the biggest drawbacks are cost, familiarity with department and/or practice, learning equipment and/or procedures, managing multiple providers, and credentialing issues.

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