There is currently a massive shortage of healthcare workers across the nation, at all levels of care. However, the extremes are hitting facilities, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities, which rely on lower or non-credentialed healthcare workers to assist nurses and doctors day-to-day.

Some lower credentialed positions struggling to stay staffed include medical assistants, home health aides, and pharmacy technicians. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) conducted a survey in June 2021 that showed some astounding statistics about the state of the nation’s pharmacies.

Currently, four in five pharmacies are struggling to staff enough workers to handle patients, deliver prescriptions, and simply manage the cash registers. There are many reasons for this including people leaving positions (during the pandemic) where they are exposed to more people or finding work elsewhere for more pay, but also the growing aging population is heavily affecting the need for healthcare workers.

 

What is driving the healthcare worker shortage?

The baby boomer population makes up nearly a quarter of the entire population of the United States. This population is now reaching the age where they have higher healthcare needs, and it’s not slowing down any time soon.

The United Nations put together a document on world population aging, and there are some pretty astounding statistics regarding growth and trends.

  • By 2050, people 60 and older will make up 25% of America’s population.
  • The global population of people 80 and older is projected to triple between 2017 and 2050.
  • The U.S. birthrate dropped by 4% in 2020, and it’s expected by 2030, older persons will vastly outnumber children ages ten and under.

As these older generations continue to grow, the need for healthcare does as well. And with many people leaving the healthcare industry and not being replaced with incoming workers, the shortage continues.

How can the industry combat these shortages?

One of the biggest issues with these lower-credentialed jobs is low wages (not to mention the competition from other industries right now). In the state of Minnesota, a personal care attendant (PCA) is one of the most in-demand jobs, but the median annual wage is $28,562 per year.

The government is doing what it can to help with the healthcare worker shortage, but that does not seem to be enough. A recent proposal from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is urging the healthcare industry to increase wages for home care workers. Unfortunately, the care service clients with PCAs receive are funded by Minnesota’s Medicaid program. This means the rate the state will pay for services is completely dictated (and capped) by the state Legislature—these low rates barely cover the cost of care. So how will they ever be able to pay home health aides more?

Another way the industry is combating this huge shortage is by hiring people with more experience working in the healthcare field, for lower-level positions. A new market has popped up for those who have been retired from their career of being a nurse, doctor, or medical assistant and want to get back into the workforce as an on-call position that will work within certain hours they can accommodate.

That trend may become one of the more popular ways to fill the gap in lower-level healthcare workers, but it’s not an ideal situation due to higher costs and unnecessary credentials. There are other ways to fill these gaps and help alleviate the worker shortage.

One way is to introduce technology and other automation to ensure at-home care is never sacrificed due to staffing shortages, for example, technology services like Doctor On Demand. Doctor on Demand allows patients to quickly and easily get standard checkups and prescription refill appointments over video chat, from the comfort of their homes.

How Ōmcare helps

Ōmcare is a hardware and software solution that helps alleviate the need for in-home nurses, especially for older individuals who need consistent medication management. After installing an Ōmcare Home Health Hub in a patient’s home, an uncredentialed worker can make calls, cheaply and efficiently, multiple times a day to walk a patient through medication management.

The Ōmcare Home Health Hub allows for staff to scale their time, instead of running from home to home, while still providing high-touch and seamless care. If you’re interested in integrating a Home Health Hub into your patients’ homes and alleviating the burden on your care staff and HR hiring team, contact us today for more information.