After the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) held a Capitol Hill briefing on the need for innovation in the nation’s health care workforce, concerns remain on how the industry is supposed to modernize during a time of varying factors.
HLC, an industry-funded organization lead by private and public organizational heads in almost all aspects of the health care industry in the United States, sought to inform Beltway lawmakers what could potentially be done – and what the private sector is already doing.
On the topic of innovation, HLC President Mary Grealy told Patient Daily that the focus for modernizing a health care workforce is a trying task.
"A growing and aging patient population requires a strengthened, diversified workforce trained to optimize the value of evolving health care delivery systems,” Grealy said. “This requires multiple improvements in both policy and practice, beginning with an emphasis on coordinated care involving physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists and other health professionals.”
Grealy also spoke on how the creation of an innovative health care workforce focuses on education, especially for non-physician care providers.
“As well, Congress must increase funding for Graduate Medical Education,” she said. “Non-physician health care providers must be allowed to practice to the full extent of their training and licenses, and we must remove the licensure barriers that keep health care professionals from working in multiple states. And we can extend the reach of our health care workforce if we eliminate restrictions on the use of telehealth."
At the event last month, HLC invited speakers to echo these very sentiments for the lawmakers and industry leaders in attendance.
Among the speakers was Dr. Crystal Lennartz, chief pharmacist for McKesson’s Health Mart brand. In her presentation, Lennartz characterized pharmacists as the “first line of defense” for patients in preventing diseases and ensuring a healthy lifestyle for patients.
Essentially, Lennartz point was that utilizing mid-level practitioners, like pharmacists, to their fullest potential (to what their qualifications allow) could expand access to care for millions of patients, nationwide. Most mid-level practitioners can conduct most functions of a primary-care physician which eases the strain on a far-stretched primary-care system. The main point of Lennartz presentation was for lawmakers to consider legislation and policy that can expand the abilities of these types of health care professionals.
Steve When, vice president for government and community relations for AMN Healthcare, also spoke to lawmakers on how workforce and staffing solutions could look in the coming years.
One of When’s main points was for state and federal lawmakers to consider schemes like interstate compacts for licensure for both doctors and nurses. And, other advancements that should be considered is full federal funding for scholarship and grant programs for students studying a specific health care field. What is most notable, nevertheless, was that When also pointed out that their needs to be “recognition in Congress and the administration of the health care workforce shortage.”