Across the board, staffing shortages are plaguing the U.S. healthcare system. In 2022 alone, nearly 2.2 million healthcare workers quit their jobs. In addition to physicians and nurses, the demand for healthcare administration workers is rapidly increasing. Healthcare providers, payers and research facilities are competing to recruit and retain a shrinking talent pool.
The Demand for Healthcare Workers
With responsibilities that include scheduling, accounting, finance, billing and coding, healthcare administration professionals play an essential role in the industry. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 32% growth in medical and health service management jobs through 2029. That explosive growth equates to more than 50,000 job openings annually — and does not even factor in growth stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Driving the demand for healthcare workers is an influx of patients seeking medical care. As part of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal relief measures such as Medicaid expansion and coverage subsidies significantly increased patient access to healthcare services, including mental health resources. As previously delayed elective surgeries and routine care are rescheduled, healthcare administration workers are needed to help clear the backlog and ensure patients receive quality care.
An Aging Population
The COVID-19 crisis also amplified longstanding concerns over the elderly population in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are an estimated 73 million “Baby Boomers” who will be at least 65 years old by 2030. The medical needs of this generation, born between 1946 and 1964, are expected to further impact the healthcare system. Upward trends in life expectancy and an increased need for ongoing care are also contributing to the soaring demand for healthcare workers.
Reasons for Healthcare Professional Turnover
Healthcare workers at every level, including administrators, are exiting the workforce at an alarming rate. Employee burnout and a desire for greater flexibility are among the reasons for professional turnover. Additionally, lack of childcare across the U.S. remains an obstacle for parents of young children.
For many healthcare workers the pandemic led to increased workloads, prolonged stress and low morale. Two years into the pandemic, medical and health services professionals continue to experience burnout — a term that has become closely associated with the pandemic. As a result, some are making the difficult decision to leave their profession in search of new opportunities outside the healthcare field.
Remote and Hybrid Options
The unprecedented shift to fully remote and hybrid models in the workforce also presents a recruitment and retention challenge. While a growing number of professionals prefer remote or hybrid options, many healthcare administration jobs still operate with a traditional in-person model. Unable to obtain the flexibility they desire, healthcare workers are opting to change occupations.
The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected female workers — forcing many to step away from professional ambitions due to lack of available childcare. In 2019, women held 76% of all healthcare jobs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Today, nearly 2 million women remain out of the U.S. workforce, including those in healthcare roles.
Overall, these trends continue to fuel the Great Resignation, and the ever-tightening labor market is driving competition for skilled talent — especially for administrative roles. As noted, in addition to a reliable paycheck, employees are also now searching for things like flexibility, upskilling and professional development opportunities when considering possible employers. This means hiring will remain competitive and employers must focus on retention strategies to help bolster and maintain their workforce.
Having been with Aston Carter and its affiliates for over 26 years, Joseph Edwards leads Aston Carter’s Health team. In his role, he helps drive healthcare strategy and talent solutions for payer, provider and health services clients across the country.