ATLANTA, May 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — U.S. healthcare workers’ confidence levels rebounded in the first quarter of 2014, rising 2.9 points to 58.0, according to the Randstad Healthcare Employee Confidence Index. The online study among 158 healthcare employees, which included physicians, nurses, healthcare administrators and other healthcare professionals, was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Randstad Healthcare during the first quarter of 2014. Furthermore, overall confidence levels remain high, including workers’ job security, their outlook on the availability of jobs and in their ability to find new jobs.
Job security, in particular, is very high among healthcare workers, with nearly three-quarters (72%) remaining confident they will not lose their jobs in the next 12 months. This sentiment is likely to continue, given several macro-level changes resulting from healthcare reform, including the start of federal payments to hospitals being tied to patient satisfaction and experience. Hospitals and healthcare systems will be dependent on sufficient staff-to-patient ratios to ensure quality care is delivered, making retention of existing healthcare professionals crucial.
According to a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, hospitals with higher nurse staffing levels may have lower odds of being penalized for readmissions. As mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), hospitals that have excessive 30-day readmissions for Medicare patients admitted for heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia will be penalized by reduced reimbursement. The research found that hospitals with higher nurse staffing levels lowered their odds of being penalized by 25 percent compared to similar hospitals with lower staffing levels.
When it comes to confidence in finding a job, more than six-in-10 healthcare workers (61%) believe they could find a job in the next 12 months – a belief strongly supported by current labor market dynamics. As quoted in a recent article in The Heritage Foundation titled “The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on the Health Care Workforce,” of the estimated 2.8 million registered nurses and the 985,375 physicians currently working, one-third will retire in the next decade. Workforce projections anticipate a critical shortage of physicians and registered nurses within that same timeframe.
One surprising finding of the Randstad Healthcare Employee Confidence Index was healthcare workers’ assessment of job availability. In the first quarter of 2014, nearly half (48%) of healthcare workers believed fewer jobs were available. However, even beyond the overall shortage of healthcare workers today, healthcare reform is likely to generate even more job openings. For instance, the Affordable Care Act is estimated to generate 190 million hours of paperwork annually for businesses and the healthcare industry. Complying with requirements to report quality measures and patient outcome data will require hiring additional staff and investing in infrastructure to oversee the process.
“Human capital is the backbone of the healthcare industry, and is arguably even more crucial in the post-healthcare reform environment,” said Steve McMahan, President of Randstad Healthcare. “The ability to deliver quality healthcare is quite simply labor intensive. As a result, recruiting and retaining a skilled, sufficient workforce is critical to ensuring positive patient experiences and outcomes. The opportunities for healthcare workers are growing, a trend that is reflected in the rising confidence levels found in our study.”
Q1, 2014 Survey Highlights:
Healthcare Workers’ Job Security Unwavering
- Despite a slight decline, nearly three-quarters (72%) of healthcare workers remain confident they will not lose their jobs in the next 12 months, compared to 75 percent in Q4 2013.
Significant Decline in Number of Healthcare Workers Looking For New Job
- In the next 12 months, only one-third, or 33 percent, of healthcare workers say they are likely to look for a new job. This was a significant decline of 13 percentage points from 46 percent in the previous quarter.
Confidence in Finding a Job Remains High for Healthcare Workers
- In the first quarter of 2014, almost half (48%) of healthcare workers believe fewer jobs are available, a decline of eight percentage points from Q4 2013. Representing no change quarter-over-quarter, 61 percent of healthcare workers indicate they are confident they could find a job in the next 12 months.
Healthcare Workers Regain Some Optimism about Economic Strength
- The number of healthcare workers who say the economy is getting stronger rose five percentage points this quarter to 29 percent. Additionally, 37 percent of healthcare workers believe the economy is staying the same, while more than one-third (34%) believe it is getting weaker.