Keckley adds that one of the biggest roadblocks toward determining healthcare workforce supply and demand may be the physicians themselves. He notes the dust up that ensued earlier this month after studies suggested that many prostate cancer screenings were not cost effective. "We have to get down to what is evidence-based and we need to build demand based on the evidence of what works instead of on what doctors say the evidence says. That is huge. That is a big deal," he says.
Organizations such as the Association of American Medical Colleges are already on board with the idea of healthcare workforce planning by exploring new concepts like team-based healthcare delivery and the use of technology and hard data. "Academic medicine seems to be already aligning its training programs with this new normal," Keckley says.
For any sort of workforce coordination and development to take hold, Keckley says, they will need the input and support of major medical trade groups. In addition, he says, any workforce development guidelines that develop should not be presented to healthcare providers as government mandates. "It has to become a set of tools, rather than rules. You can't regulate a workforce. You have to create tools so that market migrates to that model," he says.
He says that may prove to be a tough sell for many practicing physicians. "This is not being accepted quite as well is in Anytown, USA, where every one of these guilds likes to make its own rules and have no one else be a part of that discussion," he says. "How many doctors do you need on the staff at Anytown USA Community Hospital? Well, the medical staff wants to vote on that. They don't want to base that decision on input from anyone but the medical staff. So, if the government was to set out standards for the right demand of the workforce in your market and it was inconsistent with what a group of doctors said they wanted you'll have tension."