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1.  How evidence-based workforce planning in Australia is informing policy development in the retention and distribution of the health workforce 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-12-7
PMCID: PMC3922608  PMID: 24490586
Workforce planning; Workforce projections
2.  Health workforce development planning in the Sultanate of Oman: a case study 
Introduction
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-7-47
PMCID: PMC2702269  PMID: 19519912
3.  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.
doi:10.1186/1546-0096-9-23
PMCID: PMC3173344
pediatric rheumatology; pediatric subspecialty; policy; workforce
4.  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
Background
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.
Conclusion
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001513.
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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001513
PMCID: PMC3775724  PMID: 24068894
5.  Stakeholder perceptions of a nurse led walk-in centre 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-382
PMCID: PMC3529673  PMID: 23126431
6.  Development of an interactive model for planning the care workforce for Alberta: case study 
Introduction
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-10-22
PMCID: PMC3543178  PMID: 22905726
7.  Ten years of health workforce planning in the Netherlands: a tentative evaluation of GP planning as an example 
Introduction
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-10-21
PMCID: PMC3465184  PMID: 22888974
8.  Human resource governance: what does governance mean for the health workforce in low- and middle-income countries? 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results/discussion
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-6
PMCID: PMC3584723  PMID: 23414237
Health governance; Health workforce; Human resources for health; Health system strengthening; Human resource management
9.  The value of survival analyses for evidence-based rural medical workforce planning 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-65
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
10.  Challenges in physician supply planning: the case of Belgium 
Introduction
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-8-28
PMCID: PMC3017009  PMID: 21138596
11.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000297.
KaiserEDU.org 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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000297
PMCID: PMC2893955  PMID: 20613863
12.  Physician supply forecast: better than peering in a crystal ball? 
Background
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.
Methods
A literature review was carried out in electronic databases Medline-Ovid, Embase and ERIC. Concrete examples of planning experiences in various countries were analysed.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-7-10
PMCID: PMC2671486  PMID: 19216772
13.  Assessing human resources for health: what can be learned from labour force surveys? 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-1-5
PMCID: PMC179883  PMID: 12904250
14.  Iraqi primary care system in Kurdistan region: providers’ perspectives on problems and opportunities for improvement 
Background
As part of a comprehensive study on the primary health care system in Iraq, we sought to explore primary care providers’ perspectives about the main problems influencing the provision of primary care services and opportunities to improve the system.
Methods
A qualitative study based on four focus groups involving 40 primary care providers from 12 primary health care centres was conducted in Erbil governorate in the Iraqi Kurdistan region between July and October 2010. A topic guide was used to lead discussions and covered questions on positive aspects of and current problems with the primary care system in addition to the priority needs for its improvement. The discussions were fully transcribed and the qualitative data was analyzed by content analysis, followed by a thematic analysis.
Results
Problems facing the primary care system included inappropriate health service delivery (irrational use of health services, irrational treatment, poor referral system, poor infrastructure and poor hygiene), health workforce challenges (high number of specialists, uneven distribution of the health workforce, rapid turnover, lack of training and educational opportunities and discrepancies in the salary system), shortage in resources (shortage and low quality of medical supplies and shortage in financing), poor information technology and poor leadership/governance. The greatest emphasis was placed on poor organization of health services delivery, particularly the irrational use of health services and the related overcrowding and overload on primary care providers and health facilities. Suggestions for improving the system included application of a family medicine approach and ensuring effective planning and monitoring.
Conclusions
This study has provided a comprehensive understanding of the factors that negatively affect the primary care system in Iraq’s Kurdistan region from the perspective of primary care providers. From their experience, primary care providers have a role in informing the community and policy makers about the main problems affecting this system, though improvements to the health care system must be taken up at the national level and involve other key stakeholders.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-12-21
PMCID: PMC3492068  PMID: 23016849
Primary care; Care providers; Focus group; Service delivery; Kurdistan region
15.  International medical graduates in the USA: a qualitative study on perceptions of physician migration 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000138.
Objectives
Physician migration from low-income to high-income nations is a global concern. Despite the centrality of understanding the perspectives of international medical graduates (IMGs) who have experienced migration to understanding the causes and consequences of this phenomenon, empirical literature is limited. The authors sought to characterise the experiences of IMGs from limited resource nations currently practicing primary care in the USA, with a focus on their perspectives on physician migration.
Design
The authors conducted a qualitative study utilising in-depth, in-person interviews and a standardised interview guide. The sample comprised a diverse, purposeful sample of IMGs (n=25) from limited resource nations (defined as having ≤2 physicians per 1000 population).
Results
Analyses revealed four recurrent and unifying themes reflecting the perspectives of IMGs in the USA on physician migration: (1) decisions to migrate were pragmatic decisions made in the context of individual circumstance; (2) the act of migration ultimately affected participants' ability to return home in multiple, unpredictable ways; (3) the ongoing process of acclimation was coupled with inherent conflicts surrounding the decision to remain in the USA; and (4) the effects of policies in both the home country and in the USA occurred at multiple levels.
Conclusion
The perspectives of IMGs who have migrated to the USA are an important addition to the ongoing discussion surrounding the global health workforce. Our findings highlight the effects of workforce policies which are often developed and discussed in abstraction, but have real, measurable impacts on the lives of individuals. Future efforts to address physician migration will need to acknowledge the immediate needs of the health workforce as well as the long-term needs of individuals within health systems.
Article summary
Article focus
International medical graduates (IMGs) play a significant role in the health workforce in many nations.
Prior literature has largely limited the consideration of physician migration to isolated factors such as financial pressures in the home country or expanded training opportunities in the USA.
The experiences and perspectives of IMGs have not been included in current discussions surrounding physician migration.
Key messages
Physician migration is influenced by multi-faceted aspects of experience including individual, environmental and political factors.
IMGs report that both local and global health workforce policies have an impact on their personal and professional lives.
A comprehensive understanding of physician migration is essential to the development of effective and appropriate solutions for global health workforce challenges.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Participants were diverse with regard to age, specialty, geographical regions of origin and years of clinical experience in the USA.
The study utilised recommended strategies to ensure rigour.
The high participation rate suggests this is an issue IMGs are motivated to discuss despite the potentially personal and sensitive nature of the topic.
As a qualitative study, the hypotheses generated should be tested with larger, quantitative studies.
The study was geographically circumscribed to metropolitan regions. Other regions, particularly rural areas, may present a substantially different environment and experience.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000138
PMCID: PMC3191587  PMID: 22021871
16.  Use of information and communication technologies to support effective work practice innovation in the health sector: a multi-site study 
Background
Widespread adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) is a key strategy to meet the challenges facing health systems internationally of increasing demands, rising costs, limited resources and workforce shortages. Despite the rapid increase in ICT investment, uptake and acceptance has been slow and the benefits fewer than expected. Absent from the research literature has been a multi-site investigation of how ICT can support and drive innovative work practice. This Australian-based project will assess the factors that allow health service organisations to harness ICT, and the extent to which such systems drive the creation of new sustainable models of service delivery which increase capacity and provide rapid, safe, effective, affordable and sustainable health care.
Design
A multi-method approach will measure current ICT impact on workforce practices and develop and test new models of ICT use which support innovations in work practice. The research will focus on three large-scale commercial ICT systems being adopted in Australia and other countries: computerised ordering systems, ambulatory electronic medical record systems, and emergency medicine information systems. We will measure and analyse each system's role in supporting five key attributes of work practice innovation: changes in professionals' roles and responsibilities; integration of best practice into routine care; safe care practices; team-based care delivery; and active involvement of consumers in care.
Discussion
A socio-technical approach to the use of ICT will be adopted to examine and interpret the workforce and organisational complexities of the health sector. The project will also focus on ICT as a potentially disruptive innovation that challenges the way in which health care is delivered and consequently leads some health professionals to view it as a threat to traditional roles and responsibilities and a risk to existing models of care delivery. Such views have stifled debate as well as wider explorations of ICT's potential benefits, yet firm evidence of the effects of role changes on health service outcomes is limited. This project will provide important evidence about the role of ICT in supporting new models of care delivery across multiple healthcare organizations and about the ways in which innovative work practice change is diffused.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-201
PMCID: PMC2776590  PMID: 19895703
17.  State's Labor Department Working to Increase Hawai‘i's Primary Care Workforce 20% by 2020 
Hawai‘i lacks the number of skilled professionals needed to meet current and future healthcare demands. In order to meet the growing needs of Hawai‘i's residents, the Workforce Development Council, a state agency attached to the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, is looking to expand the primary care workforce 20% by the year 2020. Using funds from a Healthcare Workforce Planning grant, the state formed several Healthcare Industry Skill Panels, a workforce development best practice from the State of Washington, to address the gap in healthcare services and healthcare workforce opportunities for Hawai‘i residents. Over 150 stakeholders—from employers, education, the public workforce system, economic development and labor—contributed their time and expertise to identify current workforce issues and develop action-oriented strategies to close industry skill gaps. So far these Skill Panels have developed a Critical Care Nursing Course Curriculum, a Workforce Readiness Curriculum and Certification pilot project, and a group to address specific barriers that are impeding Certified Nurse Aides (CNA). Upcoming initiatives include the distribution of a comprehensive statewide healthcare workforce development plan entitled Hawai‘i's Healthcare Workforce 20/20 Plan & Report: Addendum to the Comprehensive State Plan for Workforce Development 2009–2014, and the creation of HawaiiHealthCareers.org, a website to both recruit and support individuals interested in pursuing careers in the healthcare industry.
PMCID: PMC3347730  PMID: 22737645
18.  Impact, regulation and health policy implications of physician migration in OECD countries 
Background
In the face of rising demand for medical services due to ageing populations, physician migration flows are increasingly affecting the supply of physicians in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD) countries. This paper offers an integrated perspective on the impact of physician migration on home and host countries and discusses international regulation and policy approaches governing physician migration.
Methods
Information about migration flows, international regulation and policies governing physician migration were derived from two questionnaires sent to OECD countries, a secondary analysis of EUROSTAT Labour Force Surveys, a literature review and official policy documents of OECD countries.
Results
OECD countries increasingly perceive immigration of foreign physicians as a way of sustaining their physician workforce. As a result, countries have entered into international agreements regulating physician migration, although their success has been limited due to the imposition of licensing requirements and the protection of vested interests by domestic physicians. OECD countries have therefore adopted specific policies designed to stimulate the immigration of foreign physicians, whilst minimising its negative impact on the home country. Measures promoting immigration have included international recruitment campaigns, less strict immigration requirements and arrangements that foster shared learning between health care systems. Policies restricting the societal costs of physician emigration from developing countries such as good practice guidelines and taxes on host countries have not yet produced their expected effect or in some cases have not been established at all.
Conclusions
Although OECD countries generally favour long-term policies of national self-sufficiency to sustain their physician workforce, such policies usually co-exist with short-term or medium-term policies to attract foreign physicians. As this is likely to continue, there is a need to create a global framework that enforces physician migration policies that confer benefits on home and host countries. In the long term, OECD countries need to put in place appropriate education and training policies rather than rely on physician migration to address their future needs.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-2-12
PMCID: PMC493284  PMID: 15257752
19.  Challenges and strategies for determining workforce requirements in plastic surgery 
BACKGROUND:
Accurate projections of the future plastic surgeon workforce are essential to provide a high standard of care and to properly allocate scarce health care resources. This is not a straightforward task. Longstanding concerns over physician surpluses have been replaced by fears of physician shortages.
METHODS:
A review of previous efforts to predict future plastic surgeon workforce requirements highlights the challenges associated with deriving a solution. Physician workforce is dependent on numerous factors, including both physician-supply factors, such as practice patterns and age, and population-demand factors including disease burden and socioeconomic factors. Factors unique to plastic surgery, such as overlap with other specialties and performance of uninsured services, must also be considered. Previous strategies from other areas of medicine are described with associated strengths and weaknesses. These strategies include needs- and demand-based approaches, economic analysis and benchmarking. Finally, the need for appropriate outcomes from which to assess adequacy of physician supply is discussed.
CONCLUSIONS:
Projections of future plastic surgeon workforce requirements must not only consider a multitude of physician supply and population demand factors, but also factors unique to plastic surgery. Future strategies to predict workforce requirements should balance the strengths and weaknesses of each approach with the data and outcomes available in plastic surgery.
PMCID: PMC3513254  PMID: 24294019
Methodology; Number of plastic surgeons; Physician workforce; Projection
20.  An evidence-based health workforce model for primary and community care 
Background
The delivery of best practice care can markedly improve clinical outcomes in patients with chronic disease. While the provision of a skilled, multidisciplinary team is pivotal to the delivery of best practice care, the occupational or skill mix required to deliver this care is unclear; it is also uncertain whether such a team would have the capacity to adequately address the complex needs of the clinic population. This is the role of needs-based health workforce planning. The objective of this article is to describe the development of an evidence-informed, needs-based health workforce model to support the delivery of best-practice interdisciplinary chronic disease management in the primary and community care setting using diabetes as a case exemplar.
Discussion
Development of the workforce model was informed by a strategic review of the literature, critical appraisal of clinical practice guidelines, and a consensus elicitation technique using expert multidisciplinary clinical panels. Twenty-four distinct patient attributes that require unique clinical competencies for the management of diabetes in the primary care setting were identified. Patient attributes were grouped into four major themes and developed into a conceptual model: the Workforce Evidence-Based (WEB) planning model. The four levels of the WEB model are (1) promotion, prevention, and screening of the general or high-risk population; (2) type or stage of disease; (3) complications; and (4) threats to self-care capacity. Given the number of potential combinations of attributes, the model can account for literally millions of individual patient types, each with a distinct clinical team need, which can be used to estimate the total health workforce requirement.
Summary
The WEB model was developed in a way that is not only reflective of the diversity in the community and clinic populations but also parsimonious and clear to present and operationalize. A key feature of the model is the classification of subpopulations, which gives attention to the particular care needs of disadvantaged groups by incorporating threats to self-care capacity. The model can be used for clinical, health services, and health workforce planning.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-93
PMCID: PMC3163196  PMID: 21819608
21.  The global pharmacy workforce: a systematic review of the literature 
The importance of health workforce provision has gained significance and is now considered one of the most pressing issues worldwide, across all health professions. Against this background, the objectives of the work presented here were to systematically explore and identify contemporary issues surrounding expansion of the global pharmacy workforce in order to assist the International Pharmaceutical Federation working group on the workforce.
International peer and non-peer-reviewed literature published between January 1998 and February 2008 was analysed. Articles were collated by performing searches of appropriate databases and reference lists of relevant articles; in addition, key informants were contacted. Information that met specific quality standards and pertained to the pharmacy workforce was extracted to matrices and assigned an evidence grade.
Sixty-nine papers were identified for inclusion (48 peer reviewed and 21 non-peer-reviewed). Evaluation of evidence revealed the global pharmacy workforce to be composed of increasing numbers of females who were working fewer hours; this decreased their overall full-time equivalent contribution to the workforce, compared to male pharmacists. Distribution of pharmacists was uneven with respect to location (urban/rural, less-developed/more-developed countries) and work sector (private/public). Graduates showed a preference for completing pre-registration training near where they studied as an undergraduate; this was of considerable importance to rural areas. Increases in the number of pharmacy student enrolments and pharmacy schools occurred alongside an expansion in the number and roles of pharmacy technicians. Increased international awareness and support existed for the certification, registration and regulation of pharmacy technicians and accreditation of training courses. The most common factors adding to the demand for pharmacists were increased feminization, clinical governance measures, complexity of medication therapy and increased prescriptions.
To maintain and expand the future pharmacy workforce, increases in recruitment and retention will be essential, as will decreases in attrition, where possible. However, scaling up the global pharmacy workforce is a complex, multifactorial responsibility that requires coordinated action. Further research by means of prospective and comparative methods, not only surveys, is needed into feminization; decreasing demand for postgraduate training; graduate trends; job satisfaction and the impact of pharmacy technicians; and how effective existing interventions are at expanding the pharmacy workforce. More coordinated monitoring and modelling of the pharmacy workforce worldwide (particularly in developing countries) is required.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-7-48
PMCID: PMC2706790  PMID: 19545377
22.  The future prospects of Lithuanian family physicians: a 10-year forecasting study 
BMC Family Practice  2005;6:41.
Background
When health care reform was started in 1991, the physician workforce in Lithuania was dominated by specialists, and the specialty of family physician (FP) did not exist at all. During fifteen years of Lithuania's independence this specialty evolved rapidly and over 1,900 FPs were trained or retrained. Since 2003, the Lithuanian health care sector has undergone restructuring to optimize the network of health care institutions as well as the delivery of services; specific attention has been paid to the development of services provided by FPs, with more health care services shifted from the hospital level to the primary health care level. In this paper we analyze if an adequate workforce of FPs will be available in the future to take over new emerging tasks.
Methods
A computer spreadsheet simulation model was used to project the supply of FPs in 2006–2015. The supply was projected according to three scenarios, which took into account different rates of retirement, migration and drop out from training. In addition different population projections and enrolment numbers in residency programs were also considered. Three requirement scenarios were made using different approaches. In the first scenario we used the requirement estimated by a panel of experts using the Delphi technique. The second scenario was based on the number of visits to FPs in 2003 and took into account the goal to increase the number of visits. The third scenario was based on the determination that one FP should serve no more than 2,000 inhabitants. The three scenarios for the projection of supply were compared with the three requirement scenarios.
Results
The supply of family physicians will be higher in 2015 compared to 2005 according to all projection scenarios. The largest differences in the supply scenarios were caused by different migration rates, enrolment numbers to training programs and the retirement age. The second supply scenario, which took into account 1.1% annual migration rate, stable enrolment to residency programs and later retirement, appears to be the most probable. The first requirement scenario, which was based on the opinion of well-informed key experts in the field, appears to be the best reflection of FP requirements; however none of the supply scenarios considered would satisfy these requirements.
Conclusion
Despite the rapid expansion of the FP workforce during the last fifteen years, ten-year forecasts of supply and requirement indicate that the number of FPs in 2015 will not be sufficient. The annual enrolment in residency training programs should be increased by at least 20% for the next three years. Accurate year-by-year monitoring of the workforce is crucial in order to prevent future shortages and to maintain the desired family physician workforce.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-6-41
PMCID: PMC1262706  PMID: 16202148
23.  Can action research strengthen district health management and improve health workforce performance? A research protocol 
BMJ Open  2013;3(8):e003625.
Introduction
The single biggest barrier for countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to scale up the necessary health services for addressing the three health-related Millennium Development Goals and achieving Universal Health Coverage is the lack of an adequate and well-performing health workforce. This deficit needs to be addressed both by training more new health personnel and by improving the performance of the existing and future health workforce. However, efforts have mostly been focused on training new staff and less on improving the performance of the existing health workforce. The purpose of this paper is to disseminate the protocol for the PERFORM project and reflect on the key challenges encountered during the development of this methodology and how they are being overcome.
Methods
The overall aim of the PERFORM project is to identify ways of strengthening district management in order to address health workforce inadequacies by improving health workforce performance in SSA. The study will take place in three districts each in Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda using an action research approach. With the support of the country research teams, the district health management teams (DHMTs) will lead on planning, implementation, observation, reflection and redefinition of the activities in the study. Taking into account the national and local human resource (HR) and health systems (HS) policies and practices already in place, ‘bundles’ of HR/HS strategies that are feasible within the context and affordable within the districts’ budget will be developed by the DHMTs to strengthen priority areas of health workforce performance. A comparative analysis of the findings from the three districts in each country will add new knowledge on the effects of these HR/HS bundles on DHMT management and workforce performance and the impact of an action research approach on improving the effectiveness of the DHMTs in implementing these interventions.
Discussion
Different challenges were faced during the development of the methodology. These include the changing context in the study districts, competing with other projects and duties for the time of district managers, complexity of the study design, maintaining the anonymity and confidentiality of study participants as well as how to record the processes during the study. We also discuss how these challenges are being addressed. The dissemination of this research protocol is intended to generate interest in the PERFORM project and also stimulate discussion on the use of action research in complex studies such as this on strengthening district health management to improve health workforce performance.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003625
PMCID: PMC3758965  PMID: 23996825
24.  Public health human resources: a comparative analysis of policy documents in two Canadian provinces 
Background
Amidst concerns regarding the capacity of the public health system to respond rapidly and appropriately to threats such as pandemics and terrorism, along with changing population health needs, governments have focused on strengthening public health systems. A key factor in a robust public health system is its workforce. As part of a nationally funded study of public health renewal in Canada, a policy analysis was conducted to compare public health human resources-relevant documents in two Canadian provinces, British Columbia (BC) and Ontario (ON), as they each implement public health renewal activities.
Methods
A content analysis of policy and planning documents from government and public health-related organizations was conducted by a research team comprised of academics and government decision-makers. Documents published between 2003 and 2011 were accessed (BC = 27; ON = 20); documents were either publicly available or internal to government and excerpted with permission. Documentary texts were deductively coded using a coding template developed by the researchers based on key health human resources concepts derived from two national policy documents.
Results
Documents in both provinces highlighted the importance of public health human resources planning and policies; this was particularly evident in early post-SARS documents. Key thematic areas of public health human resources identified were: education, training, and competencies; capacity; supply; intersectoral collaboration; leadership; public health planning context; and priority populations. Policy documents in both provinces discussed the importance of an educated, competent public health workforce with the appropriate skills and competencies for the effective and efficient delivery of public health services.
Conclusion
This policy analysis identified progressive work on public health human resources policy and planning with early documents providing an inventory of issues to be addressed and later documents providing evidence of beginning policy development and implementation. While many similarities exist between the provinces, the context distinctive to each province has influenced and shaped how they have focused their public health human resources policies.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-12-13
PMCID: PMC3936858  PMID: 24564931
Public health human resources; Public health workforce; Policy analysis; Public health systems renewal; Public health systems research
25.  The accuracy of general practitioner workforce projections 
Background
Health workforce projections are important instruments to prevent imbalances in the health workforce. For both the tenability and further development of these projections, it is important to evaluate the accuracy of workforce projections. In the Netherlands, health workforce projections have been done since 2000 to support health workforce planning. What is the accuracy of the techniques of these Dutch general practitioner workforce projections?
Methods
We backtested the workforce projection model by comparing the ex-post projected number of general practitioners with the observed number of general practitioners between 1998 and 2011. Averages of historical data were used for all elements except for inflow in training. As the required training inflow is the key result of the workforce planning model, and has actually determined past adjustments of training inflow, the accuracy of the model was backtested using the observed training inflow and not an average of historical data to avoid the interference of past policy decisions. The accuracy of projections with different lengths of projection horizon and base period (on which the projections are based) was tested.
Results
The workforce projection model underestimated the number of active Dutch general practitioners in most years. The mean absolute percentage errors range from 1.9% to 14.9%, with the projections being more accurate in more recent years. Furthermore, projections with a shorter projection horizon have a higher accuracy than those with a longer horizon. Unexpectedly, projections with a shorter base period have a higher accuracy than those with a longer base period.
Conclusions
According to the results of the present study, forecasting the size of the future workforce did not become more difficult between 1998 and 2011, as we originally expected. Furthermore, the projections with a short projection horizon and a short base period are more accurate than projections with a longer projection horizon and base period. We can carefully conclude that health workforce projections can be made with data based on relatively short base periods, although detailed data are still required to monitor and evaluate the health workforce.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-31
PMCID: PMC3717140  PMID: 23866676
Health workforce; Projections; Evaluation; Accuracy

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