How COVID-19 Brought the Healthcare Industry Closer to the Future of Work

Healthcare FoW

“A recent McKinsey survey found that responses to COVID-19 have increased the adoption of digital technologies by several years — and that many of these changes are here to stay." What does that mean for healthcare? In this blog, we’ll explore ways that COVID-19 has brought the industry closer to the future of work and provide some insights on human capital and workforce management capabilities that can assist with alleviating COVID-19 challenges, while advancing digital transformation. As we enter Year 2 of COVID, let’s look at three areas in healthcare that have been impacted: 

  • The Workplace – the physical space where healthcare is provided
  • The Workforce – the people in your organization that provide care and services
  • The Work – the actual hands-on activities that occur

The Workplace

Healthcare delivery occurs more broadly than in the brick and mortar buildings of today. With COVID-19, we have seen parks and convention centers turned into hospitals almost overnight in response to surging capacity needs. Hospitals entrances and layouts have been reconfigured to separate the potentially infected from the non-infected patients, staff and equipment. 

No longer will the health system or hospital campus be the sole place to go to work. For many non-direct care workers, work is now something done at home and will likely be permanent for many. “Remote work will probably become permanent for many staff members, said Northwell’s Michele Cusack, CFO. Before the pandemic, up to 30% of the system’s revenue-cycle team worked remotely. Once it’s over, only about 20% will return to the office,” she said . While front-line caregivers will still be providing care in traditional in-patient care settings – new outpatient and retail settings will be coming online.  And just like the field hospitals, there’s no doubt moving forward more and more stadiums will become centers for public health initiatives, as we have seen at Dodger Stadium (CA) and Hard Rock Stadium (FL). 

Staffing these new workplace settings will continue to be challenging in these environments and must be supported by technology. Check out How Healthcare Organizations Have Adapted Workforce Processed During the Pandemic, to learn how UKG workforce management customers used their existing technology to meet a wide range of staffing and workforce management challenges during the pandemic that will also help post-pandemic. 

The Workforce 

Much of the focus in 2020 was appropriately the safety and well-being of the healthcare workforce, whether it’s it was sufficient PPE, burnout or fatigue. While still mission critical, vaccinations of the healthcare workforce and general public are projected to be one of our best defenses this year. Yet, the majority of U.S. organizations (61 percent) intend to encourage but not require their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination, according to research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted in December. 

Even some healthcare workers are hesitant about getting COVID-19 vaccines . A recent survey by Kaiser Family Foundation found that 29% of healthcare workers were hesitant to receive the vaccine, citing concerns related to potential side effects and a lack of faith in the government to ensure the vaccines were safe. Typically an organization’s workforce reflects the community or population it serves, making education to its reluctant workers, and potentially the population, important. Hospitals are using various programs and communication methods. From instructional videos and interactive webinars showing staff getting vaccinated, to clear and consistent guidelines on how vaccinations will be administrated. Others are allowing employees to self-schedule their vaccination appointments.

HCM, WFM and HR service delivery technologies can support these efforts and more. For example, using UKG HR Service Delivery can help support your communication efforts. UKG Pro People Assist, a component of HR Service Delivery, organizations can create and deliver a central hub for important content – showing individuals only what’s relevant to them or share mass announcements. 

The Work 

As workplace settings and workforce expectations change, technology adoption must continue to accelerate. Case in point during 2020 -- telemedicine. Unable to conduct in-person visits, hospitals and providers pivoted and quickly embraced virtual care visits and accelerated its mass adoption. Moving forward, 57% of providers view telehealth more favorably now than they did before COVID-19 and 64% are more comfortable using it, according to McKinsey's recent provider surveys.

How the healthcare workforce delivers care in the future remains to be seen, however, we know Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and other human-machine collaboration solutions will play a role. Previous McKinsey research had shown that as many as 375 million workers globally might have to change occupations in the next decade to meet organizational needs, and that automation could free employees to spend as much as 30 percent of their time on new work. Imagine if you had 30% more time for your staff, patients, resident and families?

What can providers do today to lessen administrative burdens on their caregivers? The IDC Analyst Connection, sponsored by UKG, Navigating Pandemic-Driven Disruption with Workforce and Human Capital Management Solutions, recommends that leaders pay attention to high-value, high-return digital transformation efforts that can significantly reduce workforce burden and workflows and introduce new efficiencies. That’s where intelligent workforce and human capital management technologies – like UKG – can drive better employee engagement, experiences, and productivity. 

Progress on the Future of Work

The workplace, the workforce and the work of healthcare has changed dramatically due to COVID-19 and has propelled us into the future of work. The need to manage a finite pool of resources, have visibility across your entire enterprise and continuous learn will be a necessity for success. Given the human nature of healthcare, workforce and human capital management technologies powered by AI and machine learning will play a more significant role – one that only UKG is prepared to deliver. 

To learn more about how UKG solutions can help your healthcare system, click here.