Health care shows resiliency in jobs, but a shortage looms

The health care sector showcased its resiliency by contributing 41,000 jobs in September, according to the latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the increase is encouraging, the industry is facing a long-term shortage of 124,000 physicians by 2034, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. This gap should keep the health care industry focused on investing in emerging technologies like generative artificial intelligence, to lessen its dependence on physical labor and augment the care delivery model. These technologies can also reduce physician, nursing and staff burnout, and help stabilize beleaguered margins.

Generative AI solutions require an immense amount of data to unleash its capabilities. Given that health care represents 30% of the world’s data, as noted in a recent report by RBC Markets, health care stands out as a high-use case for adopting these technologies. These powerful technologies could help augment many administrative workflows such as summarizing patient visit notes, assisting with physicians’ response to inbound patient messages, and remote patient monitoring.

In addition to the overall health care industry jobs numbers, noteworthy subsector observations included the following.

  • Senior care picked up only 8,200 jobs, which is less than half of its previous three-month average of 17,300. This further substantiates our perspective that technology adoption is a must for senior care organizations to help address emerging headwinds, such as Medicare’s recent proposed regulations focused on minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes. In some cases, nine out of 10 nursing homes would not comply with those standards if they were in effect today, based on a recent article by Kaiser Family Foundation. Examples of technology solutions that senior care organizations could adopt are predictive analytics to identify patients who are at risk of falling and automating the process of providing family members with customized educational materials. These efforts could improve the quality of care, reduce administrative time spent by nurses and help organizations comply with emerging regulations.
  • Home health added 6,400 jobs, moving its three-month average to 9,100. The home health sector has boomed over the last several years and has been fueled by two factors: the proliferation of technology solutions and the aging population’s preference to receive care at home.
  • Ambulatory services remained steady, adding 24,300 jobs, which keeps its three-month average above 30,000. We expect this trend to continue through the end of the year with flu season approaching and as seasonal demand picks up for physician and dental office visits.

In addition to the highlights above, the chart below summarizes this year’s monthly job additions to key health care subsectors.

The takeaway

Even as the health care industry has shown resiliency in employment recently, a future employment cliff awaits and the health care ecosystem should look to technologies like generative AI to reduce the future expected physician shortages.

For more health care industry insights, check out RSM’s outlook.

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