The future of work in healthcare is liquid

A new report from Accenture highlights five major trends in digital health, and one may surprise you. The report, Digital Health Technology Vision 2017, looks at how innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IOT), mobility, blockchain and the cloud are all converging to ‘create a perfect storm of healthcare transformation.’ One trend in the Accenture report stands out, not because of how much buzz there is around it, but how little.
It garners little ink in the trade press and is rarely the stuff of keynote speeches … the ‘liquid workforce.’  – David Goldsmith, WEGO Health

“In short, the Liquid Workforce is another way of saying people will need to re-train in order to stay relevant in the midst of the digital revolution.  A Liquid Workforce is one that is able to rapidly adapt and change based on the environment that they are in,” says HR expert Thomas Liberty.
By 2020, 40% of the U.S. workforce could be freelance

Interestingly, the liquid workforce based on a ‘skills economy’ was a major part of my lightning talk and feature presentation, part 1 on future trends for OLC Innovate this past April. I was invited to speak to innovators in online higher education from around the world based on my writing for this blog. The aim was to help educators prepare the workforce of the future by identifying trends that are converging across industries.
Up until recently, the liquid workforce had been conspicuously absent in healthcare says WEGO Health’s Chief Strategy Officer David Goldsmith. But that is now changing. His firm recently launched a digital talent platform, WEGO Health Experts, to help healthcare organizations find and hire highly-specialized ‘patient experts’.
The liquid workforce in healthcare
Healthcare’s digital leaders are beginning to shape strategies to fundamentally reinvent their workforces. – Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2017

According to Accenture, companies can now source talent outside of traditional employment to get specialized skills as needed, “For instance, through online talent platforms, organizations can find people to support technology design and development, finance, human resources and administrative functions.”
Doctors providing Telehealth services on virtual care platforms are part of a liquid workforce. So are healthcare aides whose demand is surging with an aging population. Accenture reports that healthcare organizations have begun to realize that healthcare should be organized around the patient, not the enterprise.

While this points to filling specialized needs, everyone also needs a diverse toolkit for a ‘skills economy’, especially digital and technology skills.  Success in the 21st century workforce requires:

Being adaptable,
Being curious,
Being a problem solver,
Being a visual storyteller (including converting data into insights),
Having empathy,
Being a hybrid, both creative and mathematical, and
Being ethical (especially with the growth of artificial intelligence).

Educating the healthcare workforce on technology
Technology giants continue to grow their influence in healthcare due to a better understanding of the direct-to-consumer model. These technologists employ design-thinking engaging the end user. It could also benefit health IT to explore these principles in their business-to-business model.
•Creativity at WorkFor example, health IT companies could reach beyond the CIO decision-makers in healthcare and provide online education and skills for doctors, nurses, and other support staff, so they can more effectively engage in health IT and ask better questions.

When we ask better questions, we can create better solutions, and become better problem solvers.

For instance, a webinar or online course in layman’s language introducing the potential of APIs for EHRs could be offered to anyone who wants to learn more about health IT. By helping healthcare staff build their knowledge and technology skills, even just in terms of verbiage, could lead to better ideas for the organization.
Knowledge elevates communication between health IT and the healthcare provider. By employing a design-thinking mindset, you would be generating input and demand throughout the healthcare organization – truly integrating healthcare.
Lifelong learning key to success in liquid workforce
The greatest asset for the 21st century is to be a lifelong learner, always expanding your skills. In this world of rapid technological change, everyone will need to learn how to adapt to continuous change. Let’s provide the tools for people to increase their skills toolkit.

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