WHA Expertise in Workforce Highlighted in EBHPP Panel

February 23, 2018

Teams, technology and provider pathways were highlighted by a panel of workforce experts, including Ann Zenk, WHA vice president, workforce and clinical practice, in a legislative briefing sponsored by UW Population Health Institute’s Evidence-Based Health Policy Project (EBHPP).

During the panel, “Right Providers in the Right Places: What Policies Support Adequate Health Workforce in Wisconsin,” Zenk shared data, themes and recommendations from WHA’s 2017 annual workforce report. Zenk noted, “Health care is an important public infrastructure, like roads and schools, and it’s critical that key stakeholders, like all of us, and like policymakers, support the changes necessary to address rapidly evolving workforce needs.”

Panelists linked common themes important to policymakers to the data used to identify these themes and trends, and to legislative and regulatory action taken as a result to ensure an adequate health care workforce. Patricia Pittman, PhD, co-director, George Washington University Health Workforce Institute noted, “States take the lead over the federal government in addressing workforce, and sound decision-making is needed at a state level.” Pittman stressed the importance of collecting and sharing workforce data, a sentiment echoed by Susan Zahner, DRPH, associate dean for faculty affairs, UW-Madison School of Nursing. Zahner said, “We must maintain and enhance databases so we can know that the changes we are making are making a difference.”

Building on the theme of physician shortages and team-based care introduced by Richelle Andrae, program analyst, Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce (WCMEW), Zenk provided examples of recent legislation supporting teams, top of scope practice and rapidly evolving technology. Zenk said, “Regulations and policy don’t always keep pace, so when care models change, or technology allows better and more accessible care, policymakers need to make sure statutes guiding practice and payment also evolve.”

Pittman had the final word on the panel with, “We’ve heard a lot about physician and clinician shortages, but it’s important to remember the importance of teams with adequate support,” noting, “Career pathways are essential to bring in entry-level workers to support physicians and other providers.”

Program materials will be posted on the EBHPP’s program page. You can contact Zenk at azenk@wha.org or 608-274-1820 if you have questions about the program.

This story originally appeared in the February 23, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter