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1.  A transition program to primary health care for new graduate nurses: a strategy towards building a sustainable primary health care nurse workforce? 
BMC Nursing  2014;13:34.
This debate discusses the potential merits of a New Graduate Nurse Transition to Primary Health Care Program as an untested but potential nursing workforce development and sustainability strategy. Increasingly in Australia, health policy is focusing on the role of general practice and multidisciplinary teams in meeting the service needs of ageing populations in the community. Primary health care nurses who work in general practice are integral members of the multidisciplinary team – but this workforce is ageing and predicted to face increasing shortages in the future. At the same time, Australia is currently experiencing a surplus of and a corresponding lack of employment opportunities for new graduate nurses. This situation is likely to compound workforce shortages in the future. A national nursing workforce plan that addresses supply and demand issues of primary health care nurses is required. Innovative solutions are required to support and retain the current primary health care nursing workforce, whilst building a skilled and sustainable workforce for the future.
This debate article discusses the primary health care nursing workforce dilemma currently facing policy makers in Australia and presents an argument for the potential value of a New Graduate Transition to Primary Health Care Program as a workforce development and sustainability strategy. An exploration of factors that may contribute or hinder transition program for new graduates in primary health care implementation is considered.
A graduate transition program to primary health care may play an important role in addressing primary health care workforce shortages in the future. There are, however, a number of factors that need to be simultaneously addressed if a skilled and sustainable workforce for the future is to be realised. The development of a transition program to primary health care should be based on a number of core principles and be subjected to both a summative and cost-effectiveness evaluation involving all key stakeholders.
PMCID: PMC4279900  PMID: 25550684
Primary Health Care; Practice Nurse; Graduate Nurse; Transition; Retention; Recruitment; Workforce; Sustainability; Australia
2.  How evidence-based workforce planning in Australia is informing policy development in the retention and distribution of the health workforce 
Australia’s health workforce is facing significant challenges now and into the future. Health Workforce Australia (HWA) was established by the Council of Australian Governments as the national agency to progress health workforce reform to address the challenges of providing a skilled, innovative and flexible health workforce in Australia. HWA developed Australia’s first major, long-term national workforce projections for doctors, nurses and midwives over a planning horizon to 2025 (called Health Workforce 2025; HW 2025), which provided a national platform for developing policies to help ensure Australia’s health workforce meets the community’s needs.
A review of existing workforce planning methodologies, in concert with the project brief and an examination of data availability, identified that the best fit-for-purpose workforce planning methodology was the stock and flow model for estimating workforce supply and the utilisation method for estimating workforce demand. Scenario modelling was conducted to explore the implications of possible alternative futures, and to demonstrate the sensitivity of the model to various input parameters. Extensive consultation was conducted to test the methodology, data and assumptions used, and also influenced the scenarios selected for modelling. Additionally, a number of other key principles were adopted in developing HW 2025 to ensure the workforce projections were robust and able to be applied nationally.
The findings from HW 2025 highlighted that a ‘business as usual’ approach to Australia’s health workforce is not sustainable over the next 10 years, with a need for co-ordinated, long-term reforms by government, professions and the higher education and training sector for a sustainable and affordable health workforce. The main policy levers identified to achieve change were innovation and reform, immigration, training capacity and efficiency and workforce distribution.
While HW 2025 has provided a national platform for health workforce policy development, it is not a one-off project. It is an ongoing process where HWA will continue to develop and improve health workforce projections incorporating data and methodology improvements to support incremental health workforce changes.
PMCID: PMC3922608  PMID: 24490586
Workforce planning; Workforce projections
3.  The global nephrology workforce: emerging threats and potential solutions! 
Clinical Kidney Journal  2015;9(1):11-22.
Amidst the rising tide of chronic kidney disease (CKD) burden, the global nephrology workforce has failed to expand in order to meet the growing healthcare needs of this vulnerable patient population. In truth, this shortage of nephrologists is seen in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the African continent. Moreover, expert groups on workforce planning as well as national and international professional organizations predict further reductions in the nephrology workforce over the next decade, with potentially serious implications. Although the full impact of this has not been clearly articulated, what is clear is that the delivery of care to patients with CKD may be threatened in many parts of the world unless effective country-specific workforce strategies are put in place and implemented. Multiple factors are responsible for this apparent shortage in the nephrology workforce and the underpinning reasons may vary across health systems and countries. Potential contributors include the increasing burden of CKD, aging workforce, declining interest in nephrology among trainees, lack of exposure to nephrology among students and residents, rising cost of medical education and specialist training, increasing cultural and ethnic disparities between patients and care providers, increasing reliance on foreign medical graduates, inflexible work schedules, erosion of nephrology practice scope by other specialists, inadequate training, reduced focus on scholarship and research funds, increased demand to meet quality of care standards and the development of new care delivery models. It is apparent from this list that the solution is not simple and that a comprehensive evaluation is required. Consequently, there is an urgent need for all countries to develop a policy framework for the provision of kidney disease services within their health systems, a framework that is based on accurate projections of disease burden, a full understanding of the internal care delivery systems and a framework that is underpinned by robust health intelligence on current and expected workforce numbers required to support the delivery of kidney disease care. Given the expected increases in global disease burden and the equally important increase in many established kidney disease risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension, the organization of delivery and sustainability of kidney disease care should be enshrined in governmental policy and legislation. Effective nephrology workforce planning should be comprehensive and detailed, taking into consideration the structure and organization of the health system, existing care delivery models, nephrology workforce practices and the size, quality and success of internal nephrology training programmes. Effective training programmes at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, adoption of novel recruitment strategies, flexible workforce practices, greater ownership of the traditional nephrology landscape and enhanced opportunities for research should be part of the implementation process. Given that many of the factors that impact on workforce capacity are generic across countries, cooperation at an international level would be desirable to strengthen efforts in workforce planning and ensure sustainable models of healthcare delivery.
PMCID: PMC4720191  PMID: 26798456
chronic kidney disease; nephrology workforce; planning; solutions
4.  Realizing universal health coverage for maternal health services in the Republic of Guinea: the use of workforce projections to design health labor market interventions 
Universal health coverage requires a health workforce that is available, accessible, and well-performing. This article presents a critical analysis of the health workforce needs for the delivery of maternal and neonatal health services in Guinea, and of feasible and relevant interventions to improve the availability, accessibility, and performance of the health workforce in the country.
A needs-based approach was used to project human resources for health (HRH) requirements. This was combined with modeling of future health sector demand and supply. A baseline scenario with disaggregated need and supply data for the targeted health professionals per region and setting (urban or rural) informed the identification of challenges related to the availability and distribution of the workforce between 2014 and 2024. Subsequently, the health labor market framework was used to identify interventions to improve the availability and distribution of the health workforce. These interventions were included in the supply side modeling, in order to create a “policy rich” scenario B which allowed for analysis of their potential impact.
In the Republic of Guinea, only 44% of the nurses and 18% of the midwives required for maternal and neonatal health services are currently available. If Guinea continues on its current path without scaling up recruitment efforts, the total stock of HRH employed by the public sector will decline by 15% between 2014 and 2024, while HRH needs will grow by 22% due to demographic trends. The high density of HRH in urban areas and the high number of auxiliary nurses who are currently employed pose an opportunity for improving the availability, accessibility, and performance of the health workforce for maternal and neonatal health in Guinea, especially in rural areas.
Guinea will need to scale up its recruitment efforts in order to improve health workforce availability. Targeted labor market interventions need to be planned and executed over several decades to correct entrenched distortions and mismatches between workforce need, supply, and demand. The case of Guinea illustrates how to design and operationalize HRH interventions based on workforce projections to accompany and facilitate universal health coverage reforms.
Video abstract
PMCID: PMC4243577  PMID: 25429245
human resources for health; workforce projections
5.  Health workforce development planning in the Sultanate of Oman: a case study 
Oman's recent experience in health workforce development may be viewed against the backdrop of the situation just three or four decades ago, when it had just a few physicians and nurses (mostly expatriate). All workforce categories in Oman have grown substantially over the last two decades. Increased self-reliance was achieved despite substantial growth in workforce stocks. Stocks of physicians and nurses grew significantly during 1985–2007. This development was the outcome of well-considered national policies and plans. This case outlines how Oman is continuing to turn around its excessive dependence on expatriate workforce through strategic workforce development planning.
Case description
The Sultanate's early development initiatives focused on building a strong health care infrastructure by importing workforce. However, the policy-makers stressed national workforce development for a sustainable future. Beginning with the formulation of a strategic health workforce development plan in 1991, the stage was set for adopting workforce planning as an essential strategy for sustainable health development and workforce self-reliance. Oman continued to develop its educational infrastructure, and began to produce as much workforce as possible, in order to meet health care demands and achieve workforce self-reliance.
Other policy initiatives with a beneficial impact on Oman's workforce development scenario were: regionalization of nursing institutes, active collaboration with universities and overseas specialty boards, qualitative improvement of the education system, development of a strong continuing professional development system, efforts to improve workforce management, planned change management and needs-based micro/macro-level studies. Strong political will and bold policy initiatives, dedicated workforce planning and educational endeavours have all contributed to help Oman to develop its health workforce stocks and gain self-reliance.
Discussion and evaluation
Oman has successfully innovated workforce planning within a favorable policy environment. Its intensive and extensive workforce planning efforts, with the close involvement of policy-makers, educators and workforce managers, have ensured adequacy of suitable workforce in health institutions and its increased self-reliance in the health workforce.
Oman's experience in workforce planning and development presents an illustration of a country benefiting from successful application of workforce planning concepts and tools. Instead of being complacent about its achievements so far, every country needs to improve or sustain its planning efforts in this way, in order to circumvent the current workforce deficiencies and to further increase self-reliance and improve workforce efficiency and effectiveness.
PMCID: PMC2702269  PMID: 19519912
6.  Improving the planning of the GP workforce in Australia: a simulation model incorporating work transitions, health need and service usage 
In Australia, the approach to health workforce planning has been supply-led and resource-driven rather than need-based. The result has been cycles of shortages and oversupply. These approaches have tended to use age and sex projections as a measure of need or demand for health care. Less attention has been given to more complex aspects of the population, such as the increasing proportion of the ageing population and increasing levels of chronic diseases or changes in the mix of health care providers or their productivity levels. These are difficult measures to get right and so are often avoided. This study aims to develop a simulation model for planning the general practice workforce in South Australia that incorporates work transitions, health need and service usage.
A simulation model was developed with two sub-models—a supply sub-model and a need sub-model. The supply sub-model comprised three components—training, supply and productivity—and the need sub-model described population size, health needs, service utilisation rates and productivity. A state transition cohort model is used to estimate the future supply of GPs, accounting for entries and exits from the workforce and changes in location and work status. In estimating the required number of GPs, the model used incidence and prevalence data, combined with age, gender and condition-specific utilisation rates. The model was run under alternative assumptions reflecting potential changes in need and utilisation rates over time.
The supply sub-model estimated the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) GP stock in SA for the period 2004–2011 and was similar to the observed data, although it had a tendency to overestimate the GP stock. The three scenarios presented for the demand sub-model resulted in different outcomes for the estimated required number of GPs. For scenario one, where utilisation rates in 2003 were assumed optimal, the model predicted fewer FTE GPs were required than was observed. In scenario 2, where utilisation rates in 2013 were assumed optimal, the model matched observed data, and in scenario 3, which assumed increasing age- and gender-specific needs over time, the model predicted more FTE GPs were required than was observed.
This study provides a robust methodology for determining supply and demand for one professional group at a state level. The supply sub-model was fitted to accurately represent workforce behaviours. In terms of demand, the scenario analysis showed variation in the estimations under different assumptions that demonstrates the value of monitoring population-based need over time. In the meantime, expert opinion might identify the most relevant scenario to be used in projecting workforce requirements.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12960-016-0110-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4828877  PMID: 27067272
General practice; Health workforce; Health needs; Utilisation; Simulation model
7.  Allied health growth: what we do not measure we cannot manage 
Data describing the Australian allied health workforce is inadequate and so insufficient for workforce planning. National health policy reform requires that health-care models take into account future workforce requirements, the distribution and work contexts of existing practitioners, training needs, workforce roles and scope of practice. Good information on this workforce is essential for managing services as demands increase, accountability of practitioners, measurement of outcomes and benchmarking against other jurisdictions. A comprehensive data set is essential to underpin policy and planning to meet future health workforce needs.
Some data on allied health professions is managed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency; however, there is limited information regarding several core allied health professions. A global registration and accreditation scheme recognizing all allied health professions might provide safeguards and credibility for professionals and their clients.
Arguments are presented about inconsistencies and voids in the available information about allied health services. Remedying these information deficits is essential to underpin policy and planning for future health workforce needs. We make the case for a comprehensive national data set based on a broad and inclusive sampling process across the allied health population.
PMCID: PMC4440507  PMID: 25971449
Allied health; Registration; Service provision
8.  Human resource management in post-conflict health systems: review of research and knowledge gaps 
Conflict and Health  2014;8:18.
In post-conflict settings, severe disruption to health systems invariably leaves populations at high risk of disease and in greater need of health provision than more stable resource-poor countries. The health workforce is often a direct victim of conflict. Effective human resource management (HRM) strategies and policies are critical to addressing the systemic effects of conflict on the health workforce such as flight of human capital, mismatches between skills and service needs, breakdown of pre-service training, and lack of human resource data. This paper reviews published literatures across three functional areas of HRM in post-conflict settings: workforce supply, workforce distribution, and workforce performance. We searched published literatures for articles published in English between 2003 and 2013. The search used context-specific keywords (e.g. post-conflict, reconstruction) in combination with topic-related keywords based on an analytical framework containing the three functional areas of HRM (supply, distribution, and performance) and several corresponding HRM topic areas under these. In addition, the framework includes a number of cross-cutting topics such as leadership and governance, finance, and gender. The literature is growing but still limited. Many publications have focused on health workforce supply issues, including pre-service education and training, pay, and recruitment. Less is known about workforce distribution, especially governance and administrative systems for deployment and incentive policies to redress geographical workforce imbalances. Apart from in-service training, workforce performance is particularly under-researched in the areas of performance-based incentives, management and supervision, work organisation and job design, and performance appraisal. Research is largely on HRM in the early post-conflict period and has relied on secondary data. More primary research is needed across the areas of workforce supply, workforce distribution, and workforce performance. However, this should apply a longer-term focus throughout the different post-conflict phases, while paying attention to key cross-cutting themes such as leadership and governance, gender equity, and task shifting. The research gaps identified should enable future studies to examine how HRM could be used to meet both short and long term objectives for rebuilding health workforces and thereby contribute to achieving more equitable and sustainable health systems outcomes after conflict.
PMCID: PMC4187016  PMID: 25295071
Human resource management; Health workforce; Post-conflict; Fragile; Health systems; Reconstruction
9.  Policy challenges for the pediatric rheumatology workforce: Part II. Health care system delivery and workforce supply 
The United States pediatric population with chronic health conditions is expanding. Currently, this demographic comprises 12-18% of the American child and youth population. Affected children often receive fragmented, uncoordinated care. Overall, the American health care delivery system produces modest outcomes for this population. Poor, uninsured and minority children may be at increased risk for inferior coordination of services. Further, the United States health care delivery system is primarily organized for the diagnosis and treatment of acute conditions. For pediatric patients with chronic health conditions, the typical acute problem-oriented visit actually serves as a barrier to care. The biomedical model of patient education prevails, characterized by unilateral transfer of medical information. However, the evidence basis for improvement in disease outcomes supports the use of the chronic care model, initially proposed by Dr. Edward Wagner. Six inter-related elements distinguish the success of the chronic care model, which include self-management support and care coordination by a prepared, proactive team.
United States health care lacks a coherent policy direction for the management of high cost chronic conditions, including rheumatic diseases. A fundamental restructure of United States health care delivery must urgently occur which places the patient at the center of care. For the pediatric rheumatology workforce, reimbursement policies and the actions of health plans and insurers are consistent barriers to chronic disease improvement. United States reimbursement policy and overall fragmentation of health care services pose specific challenges for widespread implementation of the chronic care model. Team-based multidisciplinary care, care coordination and self-management are integral to improve outcomes.
Pediatric rheumatology demand in the United States far exceeds available workforce supply. This article reviews the career choice decision-making process at each medical trainee level to determine best recruitment strategies. Educational debt is an unexpectedly minor determinant for pediatric residents and subspecialty fellows. A two-year fellowship training option may retain the mandatory scholarship component and attract an increasing number of candidate trainees. Diversity, work-life balance, scheduling flexibility to accommodate part-time employment, and reform of conditions for academic promotion all need to be addressed to ensure future growth of the pediatric rheumatology workforce.
PMCID: PMC3173344  PMID: 21843335
pediatric rheumatology; pediatric subspecialty; policy; workforce
10.  Physician Emigration from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States: Analysis of the 2011 AMA Physician Masterfile 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001513.
Siankam Tankwanchi and colleagues used the AMA Physician Masterfile and the WHO Global Health Workforce Statistics on physicians in sub-Saharan Africa to determine trends in physician emigration to the United States.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
The large-scale emigration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to high-income nations is a serious development concern. Our objective was to determine current emigration trends of SSA physicians found in the physician workforce of the United States.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed physician data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Workforce Statistics along with graduation and residency data from the 2011 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile (AMA-PM) on physicians trained or born in SSA countries who currently practice in the US. We estimated emigration proportions, year of US entry, years of practice before emigration, and length of time in the US. According to the 2011 AMA-PM, 10,819 physicians were born or trained in 28 SSA countries. Sixty-eight percent (n = 7,370) were SSA-trained, 20% (n = 2,126) were US-trained, and 12% (n = 1,323) were trained outside both SSA and the US. We estimated active physicians (age ≤70 years) to represent 96% (n = 10,377) of the total. Migration trends among SSA-trained physicians increased from 2002 to 2011 for all but one principal source country; the exception was South Africa whose physician migration to the US decreased by 8% (−156). The increase in last-decade migration was >50% in Nigeria (+1,113) and Ghana (+243), >100% in Ethiopia (+274), and >200% (+244) in Sudan. Liberia was the most affected by migration to the US with 77% (n = 175) of its estimated physicians in the 2011 AMA-PM. On average, SSA-trained physicians have been in the US for 18 years. They practiced for 6.5 years before US entry, and nearly half emigrated during the implementation years (1984–1999) of the structural adjustment programs.
Physician emigration from SSA to the US is increasing for most SSA source countries. Unless far-reaching policies are implemented by the US and SSA countries, the current emigration trends will persist, and the US will remain a leading destination for SSA physicians emigrating from the continent of greatest need.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Population growth and aging and increasingly complex health care interventions, as well as existing policies and market forces, mean that many countries are facing a shortage of health care professionals. High-income countries are addressing this problem in part by encouraging the immigration of foreign health care professionals from low- and middle-income countries. In the US, for example, international medical graduates (IMGs) can secure visas and permanent residency by passing examinations provided by the Educational Commission of Foreign Medical Graduates and by agreeing to provide care in areas that are underserved by US physicians. Inevitably, the emigration of physicians from low- and middle-income countries undermines health service delivery in the emigrating physicians' country of origin because physician supply is already inadequate in those countries. Physician emigration from sub-Saharan Africa, which has only 2% of the global physician workforce but a quarter of the global burden of disease, is particularly worrying. Since 1970, as a result of large-scale emigration and limited medical education, there has been negligible or negative growth in the density of physicians in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Liberia, for example, in 1973, there were 7.76 physicians per 100,000 people but by 2008 there were only 1.37 physicians per 100,000 people; in the US, there are 250 physicians per 100,000 people.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before policy proposals can be formulated to address global inequities in physician distribution, a clear picture of the patterns of physician emigration from resource-limited countries is needed. In this study, the researchers use data from the 2011 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile (AMA-PM) to investigate the “brain drain” of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa to the US. The AMA-PM collects annual demographic, academic, and professional data on all residents (physicians undergoing training in a medical specialty) and licensed physicians who practice in the US.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Workforce Statistics and graduation and residency data from the 2011 AMA-PM to estimate physician emigration rates from sub-Saharan African countries, year of US entry, years of service provided before emigration to the US, and length of time in the US. There were 10,819 physicians who were born or trained in 28 sub-Saharan African countries in the 2011 AMA-PM. By using a published analysis of the 2002 AMA-PM, the researchers estimated that US immigration among sub-Saharan African-trained physicians had increased over the past decade for all the countries examined except South Africa, where physician emigration had decreased by 8%. Overall, the number of sub-Saharan African IMGs in the US had increased by 38% since 2002. More than half of this increase was accounted for by Nigerian IMGs. Liberia was the country most affected by migration of its physicians to the US—77% of its estimated 226 physicians were in the 2011 AMA-PM. On average, sub-Saharan African IMGs had been in the US for 18 years and had practiced for 6.5 years before emigration. Finally, nearly half of the sub-Saharan African IMGs had migrated to US between 1984 and 1995, years during which structural adjustment programs, which resulted in deep cuts to public health care services, were implemented in developing countries by international financial institutions as conditions for refinancing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the sub-Saharan African IMGs in the 2011 AMA-PM only represent about 1% of all the physicians and less than 5% of the IMGs in the AMA-PM, these findings reveal a major loss of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa. They also suggest that emigration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa is a growing problem and is likely to continue unless job satisfaction for physicians is improved in their country of origin. Moreover, because the AMA-PM only lists physicians who qualify for a US residency position, more physicians may have moved from sub-Saharan Africa to the US than reported here and may be working in other jobs incommensurate with their medical degrees (“brain waste”). The researchers suggest that physician emigration from sub-Saharan Africa to the US reflects the complexities in the labor markets for health care professionals in both Africa and the US and can be seen as low- and middle-income nations subsidizing the education of physicians in high-income countries. Policy proposals to address global inequities in physician distribution will therefore need both to encourage the recruitment, training, and retention of health care professionals in resource-limited countries and to persuade high-income countries to train more home-grown physicians to meet the needs of their own populations.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research is a non-profit foundation committed to improving world health through education that was established in 2000 by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
The Global Health Workforce Alliance is a partnership of national governments, civil society, international agencies, finance institutions, researchers, educators, and professional associations dedicated to identifying, implementing and advocating for solutions to the chronic global shortage of health care professionals (available in several languages)
Information on the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile and the providers of physician data lists is available via the American Medical Associations website
The World Health Organization (WHO) annual World Health Statistics reports present the most recent health statistics for the WHO Member States
The Medical Education Partnership Initiative is a US-sponsored initiative that supports medical education and research in sub-Saharan African institutions, aiming to increase the quantity, quality, and retention of graduates with specific skills addressing the health needs of their national populations
CapacityPlus is the USAID-funded global project uniquely focused on the health workforce needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals
Seed Global Health cultivates the next generation of health professionals by allying medical and nursing volunteers with their peers in resource-limited settings
"America is Stealing the Worlds Doctors", a 2012 New York Times article by Matt McAllester, describes the personal experience of a young doctor who emigrated from Zambia to the US
Path to United States Practice Is Long Slog to Foreign Doctors, a 2013 New York Times article by Catherine Rampell, describes the hurdles that immigrant physicians face in practicing in the US
PMCID: PMC3775724  PMID: 24068894
11.  The Impact of Company-Level ART Provision to a Mining Workforce in South Africa: A Cost–Benefit Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(9):e1001869.
HIV impacts heavily on the operating costs of companies in sub-Saharan Africa, with many companies now providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) programmes in the workplace. A full cost–benefit analysis of workplace ART provision has not been conducted using primary data. We developed a dynamic health-state transition model to estimate the economic impact of HIV and the cost–benefit of ART provision in a mining company in South Africa between 2003 and 2022.
Methods and Findings
A dynamic health-state transition model, called the Workplace Impact Model (WIM), was parameterised with workplace data on workforce size, composition, turnover, HIV incidence, and CD4 cell count development. Bottom-up cost analyses from the employer perspective supplied data on inpatient and outpatient resource utilisation and the costs of absenteeism and replacement of sick workers. The model was fitted to workforce HIV prevalence and separation data while incorporating parameter uncertainty; univariate sensitivity analyses were used to assess the robustness of the model findings. As ART coverage increases from 10% to 97% of eligible employees, increases in survival and retention of HIV-positive employees and associated reductions in absenteeism and benefit payments lead to cost savings compared to a scenario of no treatment provision, with the annual cost of HIV to the company decreasing by 5% (90% credibility interval [CrI] 2%–8%) and the mean cost per HIV-positive employee decreasing by 14% (90% CrI 7%–19%) by 2022. This translates into an average saving of US$950,215 (90% CrI US$220,879–US$1.6 million) per year; 80% of these cost savings are due to reductions in benefit payments and inpatient care costs. Although findings are sensitive to assumptions regarding incidence and absenteeism, ART is cost-saving under considerable parameter uncertainty and in all tested scenarios, including when prevalence is reduced to 1%—except when no benefits were paid out to employees leaving the workforce and when absenteeism rates were half of what data suggested. Scaling up ART further through a universal test and treat strategy doubles savings; incorporating ART for family members reduces savings but is still marginally cost-saving compared to no treatment. Our analysis was limited to the direct cost of HIV to companies and did not examine the impact of HIV prevention policies on the miners or their families, and a few model inputs were based on limited data, though in sensitivity analysis our results were found to be robust to changes to these inputs along plausible ranges.
Workplace ART provision can be cost-saving for companies in high HIV prevalence settings due to reductions in healthcare costs, absenteeism, and staff turnover. Company-sponsored HIV counselling and voluntary testing with ensuing treatment of all HIV-positive employees and family members should be implemented universally at workplaces in countries with high HIV prevalence.
Gesine Meyer-Rath and colleagues assess whether workplace ART provision can be cost-saving for mining companies in high HIV prevalence settings.
Editors' Summary
Every year, more than 2 million people become newly infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, usually by having unprotected sex with an infected partner. People in the early stages of HIV infection rarely have any symptoms, but, over time, HIV destroys CD4 lymphocytes and other immune system cells, and, eventually, HIV-positive individuals become susceptible to numerous other infections. Because many of these infections are extremely serious, early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected individuals died within ten years of infection. Then, in 1996, effective antiretroviral therapy (ART)—cocktails of drugs that stop HIV replicating—became available. For people living in affluent countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic condition, but because ART was expensive, HIV/AIDS remained fatal in low- and middle-income countries. In 2003, the international community began to work towards achieving universal access to ART. By 2013, nearly 13 million HIV-positive people—more than a third of the global HIV-infected population—had access to ART.
Why Was This Study Done?
HIV disease hits individuals in the prime of their working lives, thereby increasing absenteeism, the turnover of labor, and the operating costs of companies working in countries where HIV infection is common (high HIV prevalence). To reduce the economic impact of HIV/AIDS, some companies provide their workforces in such countries with comprehensive HIV services that include counseling and testing, and ART. For example, mining companies in South Africa (where nearly 20% of the working-age population is HIV-positive) provide HIV services to their workforces. However, although there is strong evidence that HIV disease increases the cost of doing business, a full cost–benefit analysis (the quantification of both the costs and benefits of a business strategy or medical intervention) of ART provision in the workplace based on real-world data has not been undertaken. Here, the researchers use a mathematical model to estimate the economic impact of HIV and the costs and benefits of company-level ART provision by a South African mining company between 2003 and 2022.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a mathematical model to evaluate the past and future impact and costs to the employer of an ART program provided since 2002 by a coal mining company operating at a number of South African colleries. They fed data on the workforce’s characteristics, the annual number of new HIV infections in the workforce, the CD4 cell counts of HIV-positive employees, healthcare resource utilization, and the costs of absenteeism and labor turnover into the model. The model estimated that, as ART coverage increased from 10% to 97% of eligible employees, increases in the survival and retention of HIV-positive employees and reductions in absenteeism and benefit payments would lead to overall cost savings compared to a scenario of no ART provision. Specifically, the annual cost of HIV to the company would decrease by 5% and the average cost per HIV-positive employee would decrease by 14% by 2022. These changes in costs (which mainly accrue from reductions in benefit payments for death and ill-health retirement and in employee healthcare costs) translate into average savings of nearly US$1 million per year. Finally, scaling up ART coverage through a universal test and treat strategy would double savings, whereas providing ART for family members as well as employees would reduce savings but remain marginally cost-saving compared to no ART.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that workplace ART provision can be cost-saving for companies operating in settings with a high HIV prevalence because of reductions in healthcare costs, absenteeism, and staff turnover. That is, the costs to the employer of providing ART can be less than the costs saved by reducing healthcare use, absenteeism, and worker turnover. The accuracy of these findings depends on the quality of the data used to run the model. However, additional analyses indicate that ART provision is likely to be cost-saving unless people receive no benefits on leaving the workforce or the absenteeism rate is considerably lower than the available data suggest. Thus, the researchers propose that company-sponsored counseling and voluntary HIV testing with treatment of all HIV-positive employees and family members should be implemented universally at workplaces in countries with a high HIV prevalence. Such a strategy should be cost-saving for employers and might also take some pressure off resource-limited public sector ART programs.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on ART, universal access to ART, and HIV/AIDS in South Africa; Avert also provides personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS (in several languages), including its guidelines on the use of ART for treating and preventing HIV infection
The UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy to End the AIDS Epidemic by 2030 provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it; UNAIDS also provides detailed information about HIV/AIDS in South Africa
Wikipedia has a page about cost–benefit analysis (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The HIV Modelling Consortium has a database of models used in analyzing the impact of HIV and ART, including models such as the one used in this analysis
The International AIDS Economics Network has a library of research on the economics of HIV around the world
PMCID: PMC4556678  PMID: 26327271
12.  Stakeholder perceptions of a nurse led walk-in centre 
As many countries face primary care medical workforce shortages and find it difficult to provide timely and affordable care they seek to find new ways of delivering first point of contact health care through developing new service models. In common with other areas of rural and regional Australia, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is currently experiencing a general practitioner (GP) workforce shortage which impacts significantly on the ability of patients to access GP led primary care services. The introduction of a nurse led primary care Walk-in Centre in the ACT aimed to fulfill an unmet health care need in the community and meet projected demand for health care services as well as relieve pressure on the hospital system. Stakeholders have the potential to influence health service planning and policy, to advise on the potential of services to meet population health needs and to assess how acceptable health service innovation is to key stakeholder groups. This study aimed to ascertain the views of key stakeholders about the Walk-in Centre.
Stakeholders were purposively selected through the identification of individuals and organisations which had organisational or professional contact with the Walk-in Centre. Semi structured interviews around key themes were conducted with seventeen stakeholders.
Stakeholders were generally supportive of the Walk-in Centre but identified key areas which they considered needed to be addressed. These included the service's systems, full utilisation of the nurse practitioner role and adequate education and training. It was also suggested that a doctor could be available to the Centre as a source of referral for patients who fall outside the nurses' scope of practice. The location of the Centre was seen to impact on patient flows to the Emergency Department.
Nurse led Walk-in Centres are one response to addressing primary health care medical workforce shortages. Whilst some stakeholders have reservations about the model others are supportive and see the potential the model has to provide accessible primary health care. Any further developments of nurse-led Walk-in Centres need to take into account the views of key stakeholders so as to ensure that the model is acceptable and sustainable.
PMCID: PMC3529673  PMID: 23126431
13.  Development of an interactive model for planning the care workforce for Alberta: case study 
In common with other jurisdictions, Alberta faces challenges in ensuring a balance in health worker supply and demand. As the provider organization with province-wide responsibility, Alberta Health Services needed to develop a forecasting tool to inform its position on key workforce parameters, in the first instance focused on modeling the situation for Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and health care aides. This case study describes the development of the model, highlighting the choices involved in model development.
Case description
A workforce planning model was developed to test the effect of different assumptions (for instance about vacancy rates or retirement) and different policy choices (for example about the size of intakes into universities and colleges, different composition of the workforce). This case study describes the choices involved in designing the model. The workforce planning model was used as part of a consultation process and to develop six scenarios (based on different policy choices).
Discussion and evaluation
The model outputs highlighted the problems with continuation of current workforce strategies and the impact of key policy choices on workforce parameters.
Models which allow for transparency of the underlying assumptions, and the ability to assess the sensitivity of assumptions and the impact of policy choices are required for effective workforce planning.
PMCID: PMC3543178  PMID: 22905726
14.  Ten years of health workforce planning in the Netherlands: a tentative evaluation of GP planning as an example 
In many countries, health-care labour markets are constantly being challenged by an alternation of shortage and oversupply. Avoiding these cyclic variations is a major challenge. In the Netherlands, a workforce planning model has been used in health care for ten years.
Case description
Since 1970, the Dutch government has explored different approaches to determine the inflow in medical schools. In 2000, a simulation model for health workforce planning was developed to estimate the required and available capacity of health professionals in the Netherlands. In this paper, this model is explained, using the Dutch general practitioners as an example. After the different steps in the model are clarified, it is shown how elements can be added to arrive at different versions of the model, or ‘scenarios’. A comparison is made of the results of different scenarios for different years. In addition, the subsequent stakeholder decision-making process is considered.
Discussion and evaluation
Discussion of this paper shows that workforce planning in the Netherlands is a complex modelling task, which is sensitive to different developments influencing the balance between supply and demand. It seems plausible that workforce planning has resulted in a balance between supply and demand of general practitioners. Still, it remains important that the modelling process is accepted by the different stakeholders. Besides calculating the balance between supply and demand, there needs to be an agreement between the stakeholders to implement the advised training inflow.
The Dutch simulation model was evaluated using six criteria to be met by models suitable for policy objectives. This model meets these criteria, as it is a comprehensive and parsimonious model that can include all relevant factors.
Over the last decade, health workforce planning in the Netherlands has become an accepted instrument for calculating the required supply of health professionals on a regular basis. One of the strengths of the Dutch model is that it can be used for different types of medical and allied health professionals. A weakness is that the model is not yet fully capable of including substitutions between different medical professions to plan from a skill-mix perspective. Several improvements remain possible.
PMCID: PMC3465184  PMID: 22888974
15.  A synthesis of recent analyses of human resources for health requirements and labour market dynamics in high-income OECD countries 
Recognition of the importance of effective human resources for health (HRH) planning is evident in efforts by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) to facilitate, with partner organizations, the development of a global HRH strategy for the period 2016–2030. As part of efforts to inform the development of this strategy, the aims of this study, the first of a pair, were (a) to conduct a rapid review of recent analyses of HRH requirements and labour market dynamics in high-income countries who are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and (b) to identify a methodology to determine future HRH requirements for these countries.
A systematic search of peer-reviewed literature, targeted website searches, and multi-stage reference mining were conducted. To supplement these efforts, an international Advisory Group provided additional potentially relevant documents. All documents were assessed against predefined inclusion criteria and reviewed using a standardized data extraction tool.
In total, 224 documents were included in the review. The HRH supply in the included countries is generally expected to grow, but it is not clear whether that growth will be adequate to meet health care system objectives in the future. Several recurring themes regarding factors of importance in HRH planning were evident across the documents reviewed, such as aging populations and health workforces as well as changes in disease patterns, models of care delivery, scopes of practice, and technologies in health care. However, the most common HRH planning approaches found through the review do not account for most of these factors.
The current evidence base on HRH labour markets in high-income OECD countries, although large and growing, does not provide a clear picture of the expected future HRH situation in these countries. Rather than HRH planning methods and analyses being guided by explicit HRH policy questions, most of the reviewed studies appeared to derive HRH policy questions based on predetermined planning methods. Informed by the findings of this review, a methodology to estimate future HRH requirements for these countries is described.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12960-016-0155-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5043532  PMID: 27687611
HRH planning; Health workforce planning; Health workforce requirements; OECD countries; High-income countries
16.  Implementing the 2009 Institute of Medicine recommendations on resident physician work hours, supervision, and safety 
Long working hours and sleep deprivation have been a facet of physician training in the US since the advent of the modern residency system. However, the scientific evidence linking fatigue with deficits in human performance, accidents and errors in industries from aeronautics to medicine, nuclear power, and transportation has mounted over the last 40 years. This evidence has also spawned regulations to help ensure public safety across safety-sensitive industries, with the notable exception of medicine.
In late 2007, at the behest of the US Congress, the Institute of Medicine embarked on a year-long examination of the scientific evidence linking resident physician sleep deprivation with clinical performance deficits and medical errors. The Institute of Medicine’s report, entitled “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety”, published in January 2009, recommended new limits on resident physician work hours and workload, increased supervision, a heightened focus on resident physician safety, training in structured handovers and quality improvement, more rigorous external oversight of work hours and other aspects of residency training, and the identification of expanded funding sources necessary to implement the recommended reforms successfully and protect the public and resident physicians themselves from preventable harm.
Given that resident physicians comprise almost a quarter of all physicians who work in hospitals, and that taxpayers, through Medicare and Medicaid, fund graduate medical education, the public has a deep investment in physician training. Patients expect to receive safe, high-quality care in the nation’s teaching hospitals. Because it is their safety that is at issue, their voices should be central in policy decisions affecting patient safety. It is likewise important to integrate the perspectives of resident physicians, policy makers, and other constituencies in designing new policies. However, since its release, discussion of the Institute of Medicine report has been largely confined to the medical education community, led by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
To begin gathering these perspectives and developing a plan to implement safer work hours for resident physicians, a conference entitled “Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety: What will it take to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations?” was held at Harvard Medical School on June 17–18, 2010. This White Paper is a product of a diverse group of 26 representative stakeholders bringing relevant new information and innovative practices to bear on a critical patient safety problem. Given that our conference included experts from across disciplines with diverse perspectives and interests, not every recommendation was endorsed by each invited conference participant. However, every recommendation made here was endorsed by the majority of the group, and many were endorsed unanimously. Conference members participated in the process, reviewed the final product, and provided input before publication. Participants provided their individual perspectives, which do not necessarily represent the formal views of any organization.
In September 2010 the ACGME issued new rules to go into effect on July 1, 2011. Unfortunately, they stop considerably short of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations and those endorsed by this conference. In particular, the ACGME only applied the limitation of 16 hours to first-year resident physicans. Thus, it is clear that policymakers, hospital administrators, and residency program directors who wish to implement safer health care systems must go far beyond what the ACGME will require. We hope this White Paper will serve as a guide and provide encouragement for that effort.
Resident physician workload and supervision
By the end of training, a resident physician should be able to practice independently. Yet much of resident physicians’ time is dominated by tasks with little educational value. The caseload can be so great that inadequate reflective time is left for learning based on clinical experiences. In addition, supervision is often vaguely defined and discontinuous. Medical malpractice data indicate that resident physicians are frequently named in lawsuits, most often for lack of supervision. The recommendations are: The ACGME should adjust resident physicians workload requirements to optimize educational value. Resident physicians as well as faculty should be involved in work redesign that eliminates nonessential and noneducational activity from resident physician dutiesMechanisms should be developed for identifying in real time when a resident physician’s workload is excessive, and processes developed to activate additional providersTeamwork should be actively encouraged in delivery of patient care. Historically, much of medical training has focused on individual knowledge, skills, and responsibility. As health care delivery has become more complex, it will be essential to train resident and attending physicians in effective teamwork that emphasizes collective responsibility for patient care and recognizes the signs, both individual and systemic, of a schedule and working conditions that are too demanding to be safeHospitals should embrace the opportunities that resident physician training redesign offers. Hospitals should recognize and act on the potential benefits of work redesign, eg, increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved quality of care, and resident physician and attending job satisfactionAttending physicians should supervise all hospital admissions. Resident physicians should directly discuss all admissions with attending physicians. Attending physicians should be both cognizant of and have input into the care patients are to receive upon admission to the hospitalInhouse supervision should be required for all critical care services, including emergency rooms, intensive care units, and trauma services. Resident physicians should not be left unsupervised to care for critically ill patients. In settings in which the acuity is high, physicians who have completed residency should provide direct supervision for resident physicians. Supervising physicians should always be physically in the hospital for supervision of resident physicians who care for critically ill patientsThe ACGME should explicitly define “good” supervision by specialty and by year of training. Explicit requirements for intensity and level of training for supervision of specific clinical scenarios should be providedCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should use graduate medical education funding to provide incentives to programs with proven, effective levels of supervision. Although this action would require federal legislation, reimbursement rules would help to ensure that hospitals pay attention to the importance of good supervision and require it from their training programs
Resident physician work hours
Although the IOM “Sleep, supervision and safety” report provides a comprehensive review and discussion of all aspects of graduate medical education training, the report’s focal point is its recommendations regarding the hours that resident physicians are currently required to work. A considerable body of scientific evidence, much of it cited by the Institute of Medicine report, describes deteriorating performance in fatigued humans, as well as specific studies on resident physician fatigue and preventable medical errors.
The question before this conference was what work redesign and cultural changes are needed to reform work hours as recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s evidence-based report? Extensive scientific data demonstrate that shifts exceeding 12–16 hours without sleep are unsafe. Several principles should be followed in efforts to reduce consecutive hours below this level and achieve safer work schedules. The recommendations are: Limit resident physician work hours to 12–16 hour maximum shiftsA minimum of 10 hours off duty should be scheduled between shiftsResident physician input into work redesign should be actively solicitedSchedules should be designed that adhere to principles of sleep and circadian science; this includes careful consideration of the effects of multiple consecutive night shifts, and provision of adequate time off after night work, as specified in the IOM reportResident physicians should not be scheduled up to the maximum permissible limits; emergencies frequently occur that require resident physicians to stay longer than their scheduled shifts, and this should be anticipated in scheduling resident physicians’ work shiftsHospitals should anticipate the need for iterative improvement as new schedules are initiated; be prepared to learn from the initial phase-in, and change the plan as neededAs resident physician work hours are redesigned, attending physicians should also be considered; a potential consequence of resident physician work hour reduction and increased supervisory requirements may be an increase in work for attending physicians; this should be carefully monitored, and adjustments to attending physician work schedules made as needed to prevent unsafe work hours or working conditions for this group“Home call” should be brought under the overall limits of working hours; work load and hours should be monitored in each residency program to ensure that resident physicians and fellows on home call are getting sufficient sleepMedicare funding for graduate medical education in each hospital should be linked with adherence to the Institute of Medicine limits on resident physician work hours
Moonlighting by resident physicians
The Institute of Medicine report recommended including external as well as internal moonlighting in working hour limits. The recommendation is: All moonlighting work hours should be included in the ACGME working hour limits and actively monitored. Hospitals should formalize a moonlighting policy and establish systems for actively monitoring resident physician moonlighting
Safety of resident physicians
The “Sleep, supervision and safety” report also addresses fatigue-related harm done to resident physicians themselves. The report focuses on two main sources of physical injury to resident physicians impaired by fatigue, ie, needle-stick exposure to blood-borne pathogens and motor vehicle crashes. Providing safe transportation home for resident physicians is a logistical and financial challenge for hospitals. Educating physicians at all levels on the dangers of fatigue is clearly required to change driving behavior so that safe hospital-funded transport home is used effectively. Fatigue-related injury prevention (including not driving while drowsy) should be taught in medical school and during residency, and reinforced with attending physicians; hospitals and residency programs must be informed that resident physicians’ ability to judge their own level of impairment is impaired when they are sleep deprived; hence, leaving decisions about the capacity to drive to impaired resident physicians is not recommendedHospitals should provide transportation to all resident physicians who report feeling too tired to drive safely; in addition, although consecutive work should not exceed 16 hours, hospitals should provide transportation for all resident physicians who, because of unforeseen reasons or emergencies, work for longer than consecutive 24 hours; transportation under these circumstances should be automatically provided to house staff, and should not rely on self-identification or request
Training in effective handovers and quality improvement
Handover practice for resident physicians, attendings, and other health care providers has long been identified as a weak link in patient safety throughout health care settings. Policies to improve handovers of care must be tailored to fit the appropriate clinical scenario, recognizing that information overload can also be a problem. At the heart of improving handovers is the organizational effort to improve quality, an effort in which resident physicians have typically been insufficiently engaged. The recommendations are: Hospitals should train attending and resident physicians in effective handovers of careHospitals should create uniform processes for handovers that are tailored to meet each clinical setting; all handovers should be done verbally and face-to-face, but should also utilize written toolsWhen possible, hospitals should integrate hand-over tools into their electronic medical records (EMR) systems; these systems should be standardized to the extent possible across residency programs in a hospital, but may be tailored to the needs of specific programs and services; federal government should help subsidize adoption of electronic medical records by hospitals to improve signoutWhen feasible, handovers should be a team effort including nurses, patients, and familiesHospitals should include residents in their quality improvement and patient safety efforts; the ACGME should specify in their core competency requirements that resident physicians work on quality improvement projects; likewise, the Joint Commission should require that resident physicians be included in quality improvement and patient safety programs at teaching hospitals; hospital administrators and residency program directors should create opportunities for resident physicians to become involved in ongoing quality improvement projects and root cause analysis teams; feedback on successful quality improvement interventions should be shared with resident physicians and broadly disseminatedQuality improvement/patient safety concepts should be integral to the medical school curriculum; medical school deans should elevate the topics of patient safety, quality improvement, and teamwork; these concepts should be integrated throughout the medical school curriculum and reinforced throughout residency; mastery of these concepts by medical students should be tested on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) stepsFederal government should support involvement of resident physicians in quality improvement efforts; initiatives to improve quality by including resident physicians in quality improvement projects should be financially supported by the Department of Health and Human Services
Monitoring and oversight of the ACGME
While the ACGME is a key stakeholder in residency training, external voices are essential to ensure that public interests are heard in the development and monitoring of standards. Consequently, the Institute of Medicine report recommended external oversight and monitoring through the Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The recommendations are: Make comprehensive fatigue management a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal; fatigue is a safety concern not only for resident physicians, but also for nurses, attending physicians, and other health care workers; the Joint Commission should seek to ensure that all health care workers, not just resident physicians, are working as safely as possibleFederal government, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, should encourage development of comprehensive fatigue management programs which all health systems would eventually be required to implementMake ACGME compliance with working hours a “ condition of participation” for reimbursement of direct and indirect graduate medical education costs; financial incentives will greatly increase the adoption of and compliance with ACGME standards
Future financial support for implementation
The Institute of Medicine’s report estimates that $1.7 billion (in 2008 dollars) would be needed to implement its recommendations. Twenty-five percent of that amount ($376 million) will be required just to bring hospitals into compliance with the existing 2003 ACGME rules. Downstream savings to the health care system could potentially result from safer care, but these benefits typically do not accrue to hospitals and residency programs, who have been asked historically to bear the burden of residency reform costs. The recommendations are: The Institute of Medicine should convene a panel of stakeholders, including private and public funders of health care and graduate medical education, to lay down the concrete steps necessary to identify and allocate the resources needed to implement the recommendations contained in the IOM “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety” report. Conference participants suggested several approaches to engage public and private support for this initiativeEfforts to find additional funding to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations should focus more broadly on patient safety and health care delivery reform; policy efforts focused narrowly upon resident physician work hours are less likely to succeed than broad patient safety initiatives that include residency redesign as a key componentHospitals should view the Institute of Medicine recommendations as an opportunity to begin resident physician work redesign projects as the core of a business model that embraces safety and ultimately saves resourcesBoth the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should take the Institute of Medicine recommendations into consideration when promulgating rules for innovation grantsThe National Health Care Workforce Commission should consider the Institute of Medicine recommendations when analyzing the nation’s physician workforce needs
Recommendations for future research
Conference participants concurred that convening the stakeholders and agreeing on a research agenda was key. Some observed that some sectors within the medical education community have been reluctant to act on the data. Several logical funders for future research were identified. But above all agencies, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the only stakeholder that funds graduate medical education upstream and will reap savings downstream if preventable medical errors are reduced as a result of reform of resident physician work hours.
PMCID: PMC3630963  PMID: 23616719
resident; hospital; working hours; safety
17.  Retaining early career registered nurses: a case study 
BMC Nursing  2016;15:57.
A core objective of the Australian health system is to provide high quality, safe health care that meets the needs of all Australians. To achieve this, an adequate and effective workforce must support the delivery of care. With rapidly changing health care systems and consumer demographics, demand for care is increasing and retention of sufficient numbers of skilled staff is now a critical priority to meet current and future health care demands. Nurses are the largest cohort of professionals within the health workforce. Reducing the rates at which nurses leave the profession and supporting nurses to practice in their profession longer will have beneficial implications for the sustainability of a nursing workforce and, ultimately, to patient outcomes. The aim of the study was to describe and explain early career registered nurses’ (ECRNs) experiences and support requirements during the first five years of practice for the purposes of identifying strategies that would support greater retention of ECRNs.
A single case study design focused on early career registered nurses (ECRNs) working in a hospital and health service in northern Australia. The research team adopted Djukic et al’s definition of ECRNs as “RNs who have practiced for less than 5 years”. Data was collected via three individual interviews and two focus groups. Thirty-five ECRNs participated in the study.
Qualitative analysis of data generated during interviews and focus groups, identified the key themes of receiving career advice and choice or no choice. Analysis of study data in the context of the broader literature resulted in the researchers identifying six areas of focus for ECRN retention: 1) well-planned, supported and structured transition periods; 2) consideration of rotation through different areas with a six month minimum for skills development; 3) empowering decision making; 4) placement opportunities and choice in decisions of where to work; 5) career advice and support that considers ECRNs’ personalities and skills; and 6) encouragement to reflect on career choices.
Reducing turnover and improving retention relies on understanding the factors that influence nurses’ decisions to leave or remain within an organisation and the profession. Ensuring nurses in the current workforce remain engaged and productive, rather than leave the profession, is reliant on addressing factors that cause attrition and implementing strategies that strengthen retention rates and workforce sustainability.
PMCID: PMC5057224  PMID: 27766042
Early career; Registered nurse; Retention; Support
18.  Descriptive, cross-country analysis of the nurse practitioner workforce in six countries: size, growth, physician substitution potential 
BMJ Open  2016;6(9):e011901.
Many countries are facing provider shortages and imbalances in primary care or are projecting shortfalls for the future, triggered by the rise in chronic diseases and multimorbidity. In order to assess the potential of nurse practitioners (NPs) in expanding access, we analysed the size, annual growth (2005–2015) and the extent of advanced practice of NPs in 6 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
Cross-country data analysis of national nursing registries, regulatory bodies, statistical offices data as well as OECD health workforce and population data, plus literature scoping review.
NP and physician workforces in 6 OECD countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and USA).
Primary and secondary outcome measures
The main outcomes were the absolute and relative number of NPs per 100 000 population compared with the nursing and physician workforces, the compound annual growth rates, annual and median percentage changes from 2005 to 2015 and a synthesis of the literature on the extent of advanced clinical practice measured by physician substitution effect.
The USA showed the highest absolute number of NPs and rate per population (40.5 per 100 000 population), followed by the Netherlands (12.6), Canada (9.8), Australia (4.4), and Ireland and New Zealand (3.1, respectively). Annual growth rates were high in all countries, ranging from annual compound rates of 6.1% in the USA to 27.8% in the Netherlands. Growth rates were between three and nine times higher compared with physicians. Finally, the empirical studies emanating from the literature scoping review suggested that NPs are able to provide 67–93% of all primary care services, yet, based on limited evidence.
NPs are a rapidly growing workforce with high levels of advanced practice potential in primary care. Workforce monitoring based on accurate data is critical to inform educational capacity and workforce planning.
PMCID: PMC5020757  PMID: 27601498
nursing; health workforce; physicians; PRIMARY CARE; nurse practitioner
19.  Human resource governance: what does governance mean for the health workforce in low- and middle-income countries? 
Research on practical and effective governance of the health workforce is limited. This paper examines health system strengthening as it occurs in the intersection between the health workforce and governance by presenting a framework to examine health workforce issues related to eight governance principles: strategic vision, accountability, transparency, information, efficiency, equity/fairness, responsiveness and citizen voice and participation.
This study builds off of a literature review that informed the development of a framework that describes linkages and assigns indicators between governance and the health workforce. A qualitative analysis of Health System Assessment (HSA) data, a rapid indicator-based methodology that determines the key strengths and weaknesses of a health system using a set of internationally recognized indicators, was completed to determine how 20 low- and middle-income countries are operationalizing health governance to improve health workforce performance.
The 20 countries assessed showed mixed progress in implementing the eight governance principles. Strengths highlighted include increasing the transparency of financial flows from sources to providers by implementing and institutionalizing the National Health Accounts methodology; increasing responsiveness to population health needs by training new cadres of health workers to address shortages and deliver care to remote and rural populations; having structures in place to register and provide licensure to medical professionals upon entry into the public sector; and implementing pilot programs that apply financial and non-financial incentives as a means to increase efficiency. Common weaknesses emerging in the HSAs include difficulties with developing, implementing and evaluating health workforce policies that outline a strategic vision for the health workforce; implementing continuous licensure and regulation systems to hold health workers accountable after they enter the workforce; and making use of health information systems to acquire data from providers and deliver it to policymakers.
The breadth of challenges facing the health workforce requires strengthening health governance as well as human resource systems in order to effect change in the health system. Further research into the effectiveness of specific interventions that enhance the link between the health workforce and governance are warranted to determine approaches to strengthening the health system.
PMCID: PMC3584723  PMID: 23414237
Health governance; Health workforce; Human resources for health; Health system strengthening; Human resource management
20.  The value of survival analyses for evidence-based rural medical workforce planning 
Globally, abundant opportunities exist for policymakers to improve the accessibility of rural and remote populations to primary health care through improving workforce retention. This paper aims to identify and quantify the most important factors associated with rural and remote Australian family physician turnover, and to demonstrate how evidence generated by survival analysis of health workforce data can inform rural workforce policy making.
A secondary analysis of longitudinal data collected by the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Doctors Network for all family physicians working in rural or remote NSW between January 1st 2003 and December 31st 2012 was performed. The Prentice, Williams and Peterson statistical model for survival analysis was used to identify and quantify risk factors for rural NSW family physician turnover.
Multivariate modelling revealed a higher (2.65-fold) risk of family physician turnover in small, remote locations compared to that in small closely settled locations. Family physicians who graduated from countries other than Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America, New Zealand, Ireland, and Canada also had a higher (1.45-fold) risk of turnover compared to Australian trained family physicians. This was after adjusting for the effects of conditional registration. Procedural skills and public hospital admitting rights were associated with a lower risk of turnover. These risks translate to a predicted median survival of 11 years for Australian-trained family physician non-proceduralists with hospital admitting rights working in small coastal closely settled locations compared to 3 years for family physicians in remote locations.
This study provides rigorous empirical evidence of the strong association between population size and geographical location and the retention of family physicians in rural and remote NSW. This has important policy ramifications since retention grants for rural and remote family physicians in Australia are currently based on a geographical ‘remoteness’ classification rather than population size. In addition, this study demonstrates how survival analysis assists health workforce planning, such as through generating evidence to assist in benchmarking ‘reasonable’ lengths of practice in different geographic settings that might guide service obligation requirements.
PMCID: PMC4029435  PMID: 24330603
Australia; Cohort studies; Family physician; Family practice; General practitioner; Health manpower; Health policy; Health workforce; Personnel turnover; Policy making; Primary health care; Retention
21.  Challenges in physician supply planning: the case of Belgium 
Planning human resources for health (HRH) is a complex process for policy-makers and, as a result, many countries worldwide swing from surplus to shortage. In-depth case studies can help appraising the challenges encountered and the solutions implemented. This paper has two objectives: to identify the key challenges in HRH planning in Belgium and to formulate recommendations for an effective HRH planning, on the basis of the Belgian case study and lessons drawn from an international benchmarking.
Case description
In Belgium, a numerus clausus set up in 1997 and effective in 2004, aims to limit the total number of physicians working in the curative sector. The assumption of a positive relationship between physician densities and health care utilization was a major argument in favor of medical supply restrictions. This new regulation did not improve recurrent challenges such as specialty imbalances, with uncovered needs particularly among general practitioners, and geographical maldistribution. New difficulties also emerged. In particular, limiting national training of HRH turned out to be ineffective within the open European workforce market. The lack of integration of policies affecting HRH was noteworthy. We described in the paper what strategies were developed to address those challenges in Belgium and in neighboring countries.
Discussion and evaluation
Planning the medical workforce involves determining the numbers, mix, and distribution of health providers that will be required at some identified future point in time. To succeed in their task, health policy planners have to take a broader perspective on the healthcare system. Focusing on numbers is too restrictive and adopting innovative policies learned from benchmarking without integration and coordination is unfruitful. Evolving towards a strategic planning is essential to control the effects of the complex factors impacting on human resources. This evolution requires an effective monitoring of all key factors affecting supply and demand, a dynamic approach, and a system-level perspective, considering all healthcare professionals, and integrating manpower planning with workforce development.
To engage in an evidence-based action, policy-makers need a global manpower picture, from their own country and abroad, as well as reliable and comparable manpower databases allowing proper analysis and planning of the workforce.
PMCID: PMC3017009  PMID: 21138596
22.  Hospital Performance, the Local Economy, and the Local Workforce: Findings from a US National Longitudinal Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(6):e1000297.
Blustein and colleagues examine the associations between changes in hospital performance and their local economic resources. Locationally disadvantaged hospitals perform poorly on key indicators, raising concerns that pay-for-performance models may not reduce inequality.
Pay-for-performance is an increasingly popular approach to improving health care quality, and the US government will soon implement pay-for-performance in hospitals nationwide. Yet hospital capacity to perform (and improve performance) likely depends on local resources. In this study, we quantify the association between hospital performance and local economic and human resources, and describe possible implications of pay-for-performance for socioeconomic equity.
Methods and Findings
We applied county-level measures of local economic and workforce resources to a national sample of US hospitals (n = 2,705), during the period 2004–2007. We analyzed performance for two common cardiac conditions (acute myocardial infarction [AMI] and heart failure [HF]), using process-of-care measures from the Hospital Quality Alliance [HQA], and isolated temporal trends and the contributions of individual resource dimensions on performance, using multivariable mixed models. Performance scores were translated into net scores for hospitals using the Performance Assessment Model, which has been suggested as a basis for reimbursement under Medicare's “Value-Based Purchasing” program. Our analyses showed that hospital performance is substantially associated with local economic and workforce resources. For example, for HF in 2004, hospitals located in counties with longstanding poverty had mean HQA composite scores of 73.0, compared with a mean of 84.1 for hospitals in counties without longstanding poverty (p<0.001). Hospitals located in counties in the lowest quartile with respect to college graduates in the workforce had mean HQA composite scores of 76.7, compared with a mean of 86.2 for hospitals in the highest quartile (p<0.001). Performance on AMI measures showed similar patterns. Performance improved generally over the study period. Nevertheless, by 2007—4 years after public reporting began—hospitals in locationally disadvantaged areas still lagged behind their locationally advantaged counterparts. This lag translated into substantially lower net scores under the Performance Assessment Model for hospital reimbursement.
Hospital performance on clinical process measures is associated with the quantity and quality of local economic and human resources. Medicare's hospital pay-for-performance program may exacerbate inequalities across regions, if implemented as currently proposed. Policymakers in the US and beyond may need to take into consideration the balance between greater efficiency through pay-for-performance and socioeconomic equity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
These days, many people are rewarded for working hard and efficiently by being given bonuses when they reach preset performance targets. With a rapidly aging population and rising health care costs, policy makers in many developed countries are considering ways of maximizing value for money, including rewarding health care providers when they meet targets, under “pay-for-performance.” In the UK, for example, a major pay-for-performance initiative—the Quality and Outcomes Framework—began in 2004. All the country's general practices (primary health care facilities that deal with all medical ailments) now detail their achievements in terms of numerous clinical quality indicators for common chronic conditions (for example, the regularity of blood sugar checks for people with diabetes). They are then rewarded on the basis of these results.
Why Was This Study Done?
In the US, the government is poised to implement a nationwide pay-for-performance program in hospitals within Medicare, the government program that provides health insurance to Americans aged 65 years or older, as well as people with disabilities. However, some observers are concerned about the effect that the proposed pay-for-performance program might have on the distribution of health care resources in the US. Pay-for-performance assumes that health care providers have the economic and human resources that they need to perform or to improve their performance. But, if a hospital's capacity to perform depends on local resources, payment based on performance might worsen existing health care inequalities because hospitals in under-resourced areas might lose funds to hospitals in more affluent regions. In other words, the government might act as a reverse Robin Hood, taking from the poor and giving to the rich. In this study, the researchers examine the association between hospital performance and local economic and human resources, to explore whether this scenario is a plausible result of the pending change in US hospital reimbursement.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
US hospitals have voluntarily reported their performance on indicators of clinical care (“process-of-care measures”) for acute myocardial infarction (AMI, heart attack), heart failure (HF), and pneumonia under the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA) program since 2004. The researchers identified 2,705 hospitals that had fully reported process-of-care measures for AMI and HF in both 2004 and 2007. They then used the “Performance Assessment Model” (a methodology developed by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to score hospital performance) to calculate scores for each hospital. Finally, they looked for associations between these scores and measures of the hospital's local economic and human resources such as population poverty levels and the percentage of college graduates in the workforce. Hospital performance was associated with local and economic workforce capacity, they report. Thus, hospitals in counties with longstanding poverty had lower average performance scores for HF and AMI than hospitals in affluent counties. Similarly, hospitals in counties with a low percentage of college graduates in the workforce had lower average performance scores than hospitals in counties where more of the workforce had been to college. Finally, although performance improved generally over the study period, hospitals in disadvantaged areas still lagged behind hospitals in advantaged areas in 2007.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that hospital performance (as measured by the clinical process measures considered here) is associated with the quantity and quality of local human and economic resources. Thus, the proposed Medicare hospital pay-for-performance program may exacerbate existing US health care inequalities by leading to the transfer of funds from hospitals in disadvantaged locations to those in advantaged locations. Although further studies are needed to confirm this conclusion, these findings have important implications for pay-for-performance programs in health care. They suggest that US policy makers may need to modify how they measure performance improvement—the current Performance Assessment Model gives hospitals that start from a low baseline less credit for improvements than those that start from a high baseline. This works against hospitals in disadvantaged locations, which start at a low baseline. Second and more generally, they suggest that there may be a tension between the efficiency goals of pay-for-performance and other equity goals of health care systems. In a world where resources vary across regions, the expectation that regions can perform equally may not be realistic.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at is an online resource for learning about the US health care system. It includes educational modules on such topics as the Medicare program and efforts to improve the quality of care
The Hospital Quality Alliance provides information on the quality of care in US hospitals
Information about the UK National Health Service Quality and Outcomes Framework pay-for-performance initiative for general practice surgeries is available
PMCID: PMC2893955  PMID: 20613863
23.  Physician supply forecast: better than peering in a crystal ball? 
Anticipating physician supply to tackle future health challenges is a crucial but complex task for policy planners. A number of forecasting tools are available, but the methods, advantages and shortcomings of such tools are not straightforward and not always well appraised. Therefore this paper had two objectives: to present a typology of existing forecasting approaches and to analyse the methodology-related issues.
A literature review was carried out in electronic databases Medline-Ovid, Embase and ERIC. Concrete examples of planning experiences in various countries were analysed.
Four main forecasting approaches were identified. The supply projection approach defines the necessary inflow to maintain or to reach in the future an arbitrary predefined level of service offer. The demand-based approach estimates the quantity of health care services used by the population in the future to project physician requirements. The needs-based approach involves defining and predicting health care deficits so that they can be addressed by an adequate workforce. Benchmarking health systems with similar populations and health profiles is the last approach. These different methods can be combined to perform a gap analysis. The methodological challenges of such projections are numerous: most often static models are used and their uncertainty is not assessed; valid and comprehensive data to feed into the models are often lacking; and a rapidly evolving environment affects the likelihood of projection scenarios. As a result, the internal and external validity of the projections included in our review appeared limited.
There is no single accepted approach to forecasting physician requirements. The value of projections lies in their utility in identifying the current and emerging trends to which policy-makers need to respond. A genuine gap analysis, an effective monitoring of key parameters and comprehensive workforce planning are key elements to improving the usefulness of physician supply projections.
PMCID: PMC2671486  PMID: 19216772
24.  Enablers and barriers to the implementation of primary health care interventions for Indigenous people with chronic diseases: a systematic review 
Access to appropriate, affordable, acceptable and comprehensive primary health care (PHC) is critical for improving the health of Indigenous populations. Whilst appropriate infrastructure, sufficient funding and knowledgeable health care professionals are crucial, these elements alone will not lead to the provision of appropriate care for all Indigenous people. This systematic literature review synthesised international evidence on the factors that enable or inhibit the implementation of interventions aimed at improving chronic disease care for Indigenous people.
A systematic review using Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE) (PubMed platform), Web of Science, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsycINFO, Excerpta Medica Database (EMBASE), ATSIHealth, Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet via Informit Online and Primary Health Care Research and Information Service (PHCRIS) databases was undertaken. Studies were included if they described an intervention for one or more of six chronic conditions that was delivered in a primary health care setting in Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the United States. Attitudes, beliefs, expectations, understandings and knowledge of patients, their families, Indigenous communities, providers and policy makers were of interest. Published and unpublished qualitative and quantitative studies from 1998 to 2013 were considered. Qualitative findings were pooled using a meta-aggregative approach, and quantitative data were presented as a narrative summary.
Twenty three studies were included. Meta-aggregation of qualitative data revealed five synthesised findings, related to issues within the design and planning phase of interventions, the chronic disease workforce, partnerships between service providers and patients, clinical care pathways and patient access to services. The available quantitative data supported the qualitative findings. Three key features of enablers and barriers emerged from the findings: (1) they are not fixed concepts but can be positively or negatively influenced, (2) the degree to which the work of an intervention can influence an enabler or barrier varies depending on their source and (3) they are inter-related whereby a change in one may effect a change in another.
Future interventions should consider the findings of this review as it provides an evidence-base that contributes to the successful design, implementation and sustainability of chronic disease interventions in primary health care settings intended for Indigenous people.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0261-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4465476  PMID: 25998148
Australia; New Zealand; Canada; United States; Primary health care; Intervention; Chronic disease; Indigenous peoples
25.  Assessing human resources for health: what can be learned from labour force surveys? 
Human resources are an essential element of a health system's inputs, and yet there is a huge disparity among countries in how human resource policies and strategies are developed and implemented. The analysis of the impacts of services on population health and well-being attracts more interest than analysis of the situation of the workforce in this area. This article presents an international comparison of the health workforce in terms of skill mix, sociodemographics and other labour force characteristics, in order to establish an evidence base for monitoring and evaluation of human resources for health.
Profiles of the health workforce are drawn for 18 countries with developed market and transitional economies, using data from labour force and income surveys compiled by the Luxembourg Income Study between 1989 and 1997. Further descriptive analyses of the health workforce are conducted for selected countries for which more detailed occupational information was available.
Considerable cross-national variations were observed in terms of the share of the health workforce in the total labour market, with little discernible pattern by geographical region or type of economy. Increases in the share were found among most countries for which time-trend data were available. Large gender imbalances were often seen in terms of occupational distribution and earnings. In some cases, health professionals, especially physicians, were overrepresented among the foreign-born compared to the total labour force.
While differences across countries in the profile of the health workforce can be linked to the history and role of the health sector, at the same time some common patterns emerge, notably a growing trend of health occupations in the labour market. The evidence also suggests that gender inequity in the workforce remains an important shortcoming of many health systems. Certain unexpected patterns of occupational distribution and educational attainment were found that may be attributable to differences in health care delivery and education systems; however, definitional inconsistencies in the classification of health occupations across surveys were also apparent.
PMCID: PMC179883  PMID: 12904250

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