Research: Technology may lack 110,000 jobs in …

The large shortage of staff in the health care system can to a large extent be solved with the help of existing medical technology. According to a report by Gupta Strategists, who researched the use of technology in healthcare.

This was commissioned by the FME, the entrepreneurial organization for the technology industry. Public Health Minister Kuipers is dampening expectations in the short term. “If the corona pressure in the hospitals rises again in the autumn, the staff problems will not yet be solved. Forget it, “the minister said on Monday when he received the report.

There are currently 48,600 health workers missing. According to the latest labor market forecasts, that shortage will increase to 135,000 employees by 2031. According to the researchers, the technology can bring the necessary relief to the increasingly tight labor market in the care sector.

First of all, technology can have a preventive effect. For example, by reducing the chance of a complication so that less follow-up is required, or by enabling people to take better care of themselves, for example with an app. In addition, medical technology can contribute to a more efficient deployment of healthcare professionals. That way, the same group of healthcare professionals can provide more care.

For example, because technology shortens the duration of medical procedures, or because robots and algorithms take over tasks. The use of technology can also reduce the burden on healthcare professionals. Finally, administrative tasks can be automated so that staff can spend less time on them.

Lack of caregivers

Significant shortages are expected, especially for elderly care and hospital care. More than 750,000 employees (59 percent of all healthcare professionals) work in these two sectors, and nearly 100,000 employees will soon be understaffed (73 percent of the total shortage by 2031).

There is mainly a shortage of nurses and nurses at MBO and HBO level. The expected shortage of doctors is limited to 1,400 employees. These are mainly geriatric specialists and doctors for the mentally handicapped.

Also read: Staff shortage: ‘Make work more attractive’

In the report, which was published on Monday, the researchers made a connection between the time that healthcare professionals spend on tasks and technological solutions. “It showed that we can do an incredible amount with existing technology,” said Lissy van de Laar of Gupta Strategists.

Minister of Public Health Ernst Kuipers.

Photo: ANP / HH

When medical technology is used optimally, 110,000 fewer healthcare workers are needed. And that is close to the number of 135,000 employees that will be needed in 2031, the researchers conclude.

Slow implementation

But if the existing technology is available, then why is this problem not solved yet? “Implementation is too slow. There is a problem, “says the researcher. “There is an urgent need for staff shortages in the department, but managers and directors focus too much on attracting new employees. It is easier than organizing the health care system differently. ”

Minister Kuipers, who in all other respects supports the results of the inquiry, does not acknowledge this. “The urgency of this problem is also very clear to the leader. The lack of staff is clearly in place one, two and three on their priority list for managers. ”

The introduction of new technology requires a lot from healthcare professionals, Kuipers acknowledges: “People who work in healthcare are often extremely enthusiastic. When you introduce something new, it sometimes means that you have to let go of something else, and that is often difficult. ”

The scale is too small

What also does not help in the introduction of more technology in healthcare is lack of knowledge. Van de Laar: “All too often people think, ‘Oh honey, the robot has to take over my job’, but that’s not the case. Technology will help you keep doing your job well.”

Wrong financial incentives are also a reason not to embrace the takeover of technology. “It is now often risky to invest in technology. Some of the benefits often fall elsewhere than where the money is invested, ”says Van de Laar.

Read also: A career change for the health care system: many want to, but wage and work pressure are barriers

Finally, the current scale of technological innovation is too small, says Van de Laar. Each care organization starts its own project. “But you can hardly get out on your own.” According to Minister Kuipers, this is an important key. “Now the health institutions have their own system, their own data. It is a persistent problem. More cooperation is needed. ”

The Minister is in favor of the use of more technology in the health care system. “It is important to keep evolving. For example, if you need 10% less oncology staff due to the use of technology, you can go three years forward. But then you get stuck again. So further development is needed. “

Have been busy for years

It is not the case that nothing has been done at all to solve the staffing problems in the health sector. For years, people have been looking for solutions to make health care work more attractive. The most frequently mentioned solutions are: more salaries, and better fringe benefits such as priority for (rental) housing in big cities and better childcare.

It should also be easier for nurses and caregivers to make careers. Through better training opportunities and more control in the workplace. Attracting health professionals from other countries and exploiting the potential of people with distance to the labor market are mentioned as further solutions to the growing shortage.

These measures have an effect because the influx of health workers has increased, according to the Gupta report. But the total number of employees has increased a bit due to the high outflow of healthcare professionals.

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