WHA Workforce Report Highlights “Silver Tsunami” in Health Care Workforce, Patient Mix

Also includes recommendations to help combat troubling demographic trends

December 05, 2019

Sounding the alarm on an aging patient population and shrinking health care workforce, WHA on Dec. 2 released the Wisconsin 2019 Health Care Workforce Report. The annual report has the latest facts and data showing the continuation of concerning demographic, employment and regulatory trends in Wisconsin while suggesting potential remedies to help combat our state’s “Silver Tsunami.”

Among the major challenges identified in this year’s report:
  • The escalating demands of an aging population – the population over age 75 will increase by 75% from 2017-2032, increasing the number of those requiring more intensive health care.
  • Increased competition over a shrinking workforce – the population under age 18 will grow by only 3.5% from 2017-2032.
  • A rapidly changing environment – hospitals have moved from paper to electronic health records in just a decade, and 75% of hospitals now provide access through telemedicine. With rapid technology changes come challenges.
  • Increased regulatory demand – meeting regulatory demands requires 59 FTEs for an average-sized hospital; physicians and advanced practice clinicians devote more time to the electronic health record than they do face-to-face with patients.
The report includes recommendations for health care leaders, educators and policymakers to consider while reviewing WHA’s report: strategically-targeted workforce recruitment and retention, leveraging team-based health care delivery, wise use of technology and keeping a wary eye on regulatory burdens – those already on the books as well as new regulations that are proposed.

Key among the recommendations: state and federal policymakers must weigh any proposed regulation against the expected benefit. Even regulations proposed for a seemingly-positive purpose can instead hinder hospital and health system efforts that reflect the unique needs of their communities. Wisconsin’s health care system has evolved throughout the state via different strategies – and usually in ways that are not the result of “one size fits all” regulations.

Contact WHA Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk for more information.

This story originally appeared in the December 05, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter