Regional Consortium on Health Care WorkforceThe Regional Consortium on Health Care Workforce is shown during a meeting in June 2016. The consortium is working to address health care workforce shortages.

As it enters its second year of work, a leadership group seeking to alleviate health care workforce shortages will address policy barriers in nursing, telemedicine and behavioral health that hamper the delivery of care.

The Regional Consortium on Health Care Workforce will also create a sustainable platform for shared learning, collaboration and coordination. Such a shared resource, could, for example, help relieve the shortage of clinical training sites for registered nurses by providing a venue for educators and provides to work together to create more spaces. 

The consortium is responding to three workforce challenges: labor shortages and maldistribution of health care workers, financial pressures related to wages and payment reform and increasing pressure to train staff in existing and emerging roles and skills.

Co-convened by Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency and the Regional Economic Development Council, the Regional Consortium on Health Care Workforce began meeting in January 2016 and wrapped up its first phase in December 2016. The consortium’s recommendations were accepted by the FLHSA board in January.

“The consortium created a strategic roadmap of the multiple workforce initiatives already underway at the local, regional and state level,” said Melissa Wendland, director of strategic initiatives for FLHSA. “This roadmap will help our region coordinate efforts and tap into existing workforce resources to address capacity, training and systemic issues.”

The consortium’s first phase prioritized essential skills and competencies needed in the current and future health care workforce. These include partnering with patients and families in care, working as teams within and across organizations, and gaining technological skills in such tools such as effective use of electronic health records, telemedicine and data registries.

Teams advising the consortium on primary care, behavioral health and senior long-term care said barriers to progress include high workload levels, which often prevent staff from being able to receive additional training. Additional barriers are related to scope of practice, reimbursement and a challenging regulatory environment, and limited community clinical placement slots.

The advisory teams also noted the need for a culturally concordant and diverse workforce and identified provider burnout as compromising employee retention and quality. They agreed that new care models must be satisfying for both patients and staff to be sustainable.