Aug 28, 2023 - Health

Keeping talent a top risk for health care, execs say

Illustration of a health plus being squeezed in a vise.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

More than 8 in 10 health care leaders in a new survey say hiring and keeping talent is a top risk for their business — a reflection of the labor issues continuing to roil health care and other high-stakes industries.

Why it matters: Health care executives (82%) were more likely than those from most industries (71%) to indicate concern about talent retention in this inflationary environment, according to a PwC August Pulse Survey.

  • Health care workforces have been among the hardest hit coming out of the pandemic, due to worker shortages and rising patient demand.

By the numbers: Those economic forces are expected to contribute to a 7% increase in medical costs next year, up from 6%, per PwC's Health Research Institute.

  • "Assuming the persistence of the staff shortages in 2024, hospitals will continue to be financially challenged and seek higher reimbursement from payers. Hospitals and physicians are expected to seek higher rate increases (potentially also at a higher frequency) in contract negotiations," they wrote.

The big picture: Health care providers have taken increased labor action, including strikes, as they push for health systems to increase staffing and improve compensation.

Yes, but: On the flip side, some health systems have been laying off workers this year as they adjust to a shifting delivery model that relies more heavily on care delivered in outpatient settings and via telehealth.

  • Some hospitals have also responded to strikes with lockouts.

What they're saying: "To become better positioned to attract and retain talent, healthcare execs are starting to rethink their traditional workforce and business models and invest in technology and innovation," PwC wrote, pointing to more tailored benefits, redefined care models and an "aggressive digital- and automation-led agenda to improve productivity."

Go deeper