Addressing People Risks in the US Health Care Industry

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This article first appeared on BRINK July 16

The New Shape of Work interview series addresses the challenges and uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus with a focus on how to transition to a more agile workforce for the future.

Throughout the pandemic, the health care industry has faced a variety of significant risks from rising demand for service, rapid technology adoption and a workforce on the front line of the pandemic response.

In this conversation, John Derse, Healthcare Industry Vertical Leader at Mercer, and Gigi Norris Health Industry Expert from Marsh focus on the accelerated people risks health care providers experienced during the peak of COVID crisis – risks which continue today. They also s hare the complex challenges and risks the health care provider industry is facing now, and their ideas on how providers can address those issues now and in the future.


Key Insights

On why action is needed:
“The consequence of shrugging your shoulders [and assuming the workforce challenges will pass] is so dire because burnout and staffing levels have such a direct impact on errors that can be experienced by patients if staff is not adequately prepared, or is not sufficient in numbers to deal with the patient population that they are handling.”

On the complexity of the situation:
“Waiting for a fix is tempting because the solution, [and] the approach, is hard and it’s different. It’s harder than anything this industry has really had to try before because there’s no silver bullet. There’s no one thing that an organization can do. It is a combination of things woven together around the work environment around the individual employee experience. Around the work itself in terms of how it’s designed, and skills versus jobs and agility. These are all things that are going on now, but it’s complex.”

On approaching solutions:
“Organizations really now are starting to take a step back to understand what are the tasks, what is the body of work that needs to be done, and how do we organize our skills and people that can up-skill to fill some of these important critical needs that we’re going to have going forward.”

On the importance of job satisfaction:
“Stress claims in workers’ compensation are also something that you see affected by understaffing, and by burnout. People become so stressed that they have to take time off work. All these things are related. Which is one of the things I really liked about what John is saying with regards to looking at new skills, it also provides the potential to give people more job satisfaction which is a counterpoint to a lot of what we’re seeing in terms of burnout and stress.”

John Derse
by John Derse

Partner, Healthcare Industry Vertical Leader

Gisele Norris
by Gisele Norris

Managing Director, US National Healthcare Practice at Marsh

Speak to a Mercer consultant