3 trends shaping the healthcare industry

As the healthcare field continues to evolve, a number of trends are taking shape. Most recently, the industry became the largest employer in the U.S., yet demand for quality employees is still on the rise. Consider these three shifts in the sector that will have an impact on the next several years:

1. The sector will become the biggest source of jobs in U.S. 
Derek Thompson of The Atlantic has called it a healthcare boom: In the final quarter of 2017 healthcare topped both retail and manufacturing as the largest employer in the country for the first time ever. Both sectors had previously outpaced healthcare by 2.4 million and 7 million employees, respectively, during the 20th century. The climb did not come as a surprise, due to a number of factors. Thompson listed three key reasons healthcare took over as the largest supplier of work:

  • An increasingly large group of adults over 55 in need of care.
  • Healthcare employment will always be protected, because it is publicly subsidized.
  • The industry has remained unaffected by globalization and automation, two things that have impacted retail and manufacturing jobs.

As the article reported, within seven years 25 percent of the U.S. workforce will be over the age of 55. As this population gets older, they will need more and more care. Home health aids and the need for healthcare service sector employees will only continue to increase in correlation with the growth of the elderly population.

In 2017, healthcare became the largest employer in the U.S.In 2017, healthcare became the largest employer in the U.S.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, the healthcare and social services sector are forecast to add 4 million jobs by 2026. These will account for one third of all new jobs predicted to be created by then. In 2016, employment in the industry accounted for 12.2 percent of all U.S. employment. The forecasted job growth will propel that rate to 13.8 percent, leading healthcare to become the largest source of jobs by 2026.

Positions expected to grow the fastest include healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, according to the BLS. Healthcare support roles will increase at a high rate as well. When it comes to salary and job potential however, the fastest growing job with an above average salary will be registered nurse, The Atlantic reported.

2. The move toward contract work
According to associate Jaklyn Wrigley of the Fisher Phillips law firm, the gig economy is having a big impact on the healthcare industry as medical staff, nurses, clinicians, specialists and even doctors are being hired as temporary employees. Historically, the industry has already seen success in its per diem nursing strategies, which have been used for decades. Similarly, the gig economy works in favor of both employee and employer, as staffing for hospitals and healthcare centers can be done on a need-by-need basis, and medical workers can enjoy a versatile schedule and work environment. 

The trend of contract and temporary work within the healthcare industry is based on a number of factors. As Wrigley explained, it is fulfilling the needs based on the aforementioned aging population, the rise of healthcare consumption, increased chronic illness and talent shortages. This shift in hiring is anticipated to continue.

The need for qualified talent is on the rise in the healthcare industry.The need for qualified talent is on the rise in the healthcare industry.

3. Demand for top talent on the rise
Citing data from the BLS, by 2022, the U.S. will be short 1.2 million nurses, Modern Healthcare reported. The need for home health aides and primary care physicians in healthcare facilities across the country is also not being met. This means that for all those who've completed degrees in the healthcare field or are looking to transition to a new role, the industry is ripe with jobs.

Dr. Alexi Nazem, co-founder and CEO of Nomad Health, told the source that the move to value-based pay has had an impact on filling jobs and offering competitive salaries. Moreover, it has been difficult for many organizations trying to keep up with employees leaving.

While an older population means increased need for elderly care, it also means the sector should expect to lose a number of executives of the Baby Boomer generation. Health Leaders Media recently reported the retirement of 12 healthcare executives across the country, some who have given more than 36 of service in the role. Employment opportunities at the top level are expected to continue in the coming years.

Consider these trends shaping the healthcare industry.