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Table 4 The methodological approaches established during the first phase of research

From: Handling healthcare workforce planning with care: where do we stand?

Methodology Description Assumptions Advantages Limitations Overcoming limitations Requirements Documented usagea
Supply        
Training Projects the availability of health-care professionals based on the current stock of clinicians, the training process (entries and dropouts), migration flows, attritions and retirement rates Demand for medical services is assumed to remain constant and the projections are used to reduce the supply gap Predictions for the future supply can be obtained in a fairly simple and immediate way Demand for medical services is assumed to remain constant, which may not be true No critical assessment of the adequacy of current service levels Incorporate a model of demand: economic or needs-based (or both)Evaluate current level of service through waiting lists, overtime hours,foreign workers, etc. Accurate and up-to-date accounting of the current stock of physicians and nurses, migration rates, entry and drop out rates and expected retireesService usage levels from the health-care sector Australia, Belgium,Canada, Chile,Denmark, Finland,France, Germany,Ireland, Israel, Japan,South Korea,Norway, Switzerla nd,The Netherlands,United Kingdom,USA
Productivity Reorganize services and/or economic incentives to promote higher productivity. Work harder or work smarter Physicians and nurses act as rational agentsan d react to economic incentives like wage increases Does not require a change in the quantity of human resources. Can be implementedimmediately Productivity improvements may not be enough to accommodate large gaps in the supply of professionals Do not preclude from evaluating the number of professiona ls necessary given differentproductivity levels Operational indicators like the number of patients served with a given number of FTEs (or head counts) Australia, Canada,Japan, Korea, Netherlands, N orway,Switzerland, UnitedKingdom, USA
Skill mix Delegate certain tasks to other health professionals. Substitution can be horizontal (betweenmedical professions) orvertical (betweenphysicians and nurses) Professionals can assume new roles and perform new tasks Does not require a change in the quantity of human resources. Can be implemented immediately Enforcing such changes can be a political challange.Does not solve large gaps in the supply Providing success stories to involved stakeholders, healthauthorities and medical associations Education schools that can provide advanc ed education to the existing workforce Netherlands, United Kingdom
Worker-to-population ratios Specifies desirable worker-to-population ratios based on direct comparison with another region of country Regions and/or countries can be directly compared Extremely easy to understand and apply Useful forproviding baseline comparisons Does not take into account the intrinsic differences between regions a nd countries, the productivity and s kill mix of the avail able workforce Does not take into account the intrinsic differences between regions and countries, the productivity and skill mix of the available workforce Records of the current workforce to population ratios Chile, France, Ireland, Israel, Switzerland,United Kingdom
Demand        
Economic Estimates future requirements by projecting the effect of demographic and socio-economic factors on the current level of service Current level of service is adequate.Skill mix and distribution of health service is appropriateDemographic profile of the population and its effect on health-care demand can be accurately forecasted Conceptually easy to understand and to apply Allows decoupling of the various components of demand and their influence on the overall aggregate demand Tends to produce estimates of HHR demand that exceed practical limits No criticalassessment of the adequacy of current service levels Ignores the real demand,focusing instead onthe effective demand Take financial constraints into considerationEvaluate current level of service through waiting lists, overtime hours, foreign workers, etc.Include a needs-basedevaluation Accurate and long-term demographic estimates Service-usage levels from the health-care sector Macroeconomic indicators and stati stical data crossing income and usage Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, The Netherlands, USA
Needs Considers the effect of epidemiology on the demand for health-care services Projects age- and gender-specific needs based on morbidity epidemiological trends All health-care needs can and should be metResources are used in accordance to needs Allows for a fine-gra inedanalysis of the requirements of each medical specialty Is independent of the current service-utilization ratios Easy to understand Absence of ec onomic/efficiency considerations mayren der the projections unattainable Dependent on epidemiological projections which may not be obviousDoes not consider the current level of provision nor the capacity of the country to deliver health care Consider an upper bound for a practical resultConsider projections of the most common he alth patterns Incorporate econo mic considerations in the model Demographic esti mates that are accurate Service-usage levels from the health-care sector Belgium, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom
Service targets Defines normative targets for the production of health-care services, which are then converted to HHR requirements Assumes that established service targets are achievable in terms of financial and physical capital resources Easy to d efine, interpret and understandFacilitates cost estimation Requires modest data and planning capabilities May originate unrea listic assumptionsIgnores financial and other active constraints Incorporate economic considerations in the model Current level of service  
  1. aOECD Report
  2. Source: adapted from Hall and Mejia [13], O’Brien-Pallas [11] and Dreesch [1]