Mar 13, 2020 - Health

Health care's hiring boom may not help the coronavirus outbreak

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Health care hiring has surged over the past few years, but the influx of bodies won't necessarily alleviate an impending wave of coronavirus cases.

The big picture: Most new health care jobs are on the administrative side — not doctors, nurses or other clinical staff who are needed to help triage and care for patients.

Where things stand: The health care industry has added roughly 914,000 jobs over the past three years — more than the population of San Francisco — and a large chunk of those jobs came in outpatient settings like physician offices.

  • However, more granular federal data show a majority of the hires have been for administrative and clerical jobs, like hospital billing, collections, IT, marketing and insurance contracting.
  • Many home health jobs have been created, which could help older adults who have chronic illnesses and need to stay at home during the outbreak, but the biggest need will be in hospital intensive care units.

The bottom line: "We have a lot of fat in our health care system," said Bob Kocher, a doctor and partner at Venrock. "But we don't have any fat on the clinical workforce side."

Go deeper: A longer coronavirus outbreak is the best outcome for the health care system

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