Healthcare added 46,000 new jobs in May, with ambulatory care (outpatient care) accounting for approximately 52% (24k+) of this number and hospitals about 37% (17k+), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nursing care facilities made up about 11% (5k+) of the overall number of new healthcare jobs.
According to these statistics, ambulatory care is growing at a faster rate than both hospital and nursing care facilities combined. This is a trend that has been building for some time according to many experts.
Why did ambulatory health care services account for over 52% of new jobs created in May compared to hospitals at 37%?
What do some of the experts say?
We posed this question to several healthcare executives in our Healthcare Operations Executive Groupon Linkedin. Audrey Folmer, Managing Director, Health Care Consulting of The Colmen Groupin Florida says that she, "would argue that ambulatory care isn't the care of the future as much as it has been shifting for the past decade. Efforts have been under way for some time to move care upstream toward preventive care and keep people out of the hospital."
Folmer also shared that incentives, "including Medicare's Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, enacted under the ACA, are driving the focus on making care more accessible and coordinated with ambulatory providers to avoid unnecessary inpatient stays. Alternative payment models, such as accountable care organizations, also incentivize providers to deliver high-quality care across the continuum and reduce the number and length of inpatient stays and emergency department visits."
Suzette Galope Garcia, Healthcare Consultant and former Director at Golden Valley Health Centersof CA, says that, "CMS penalizes hospitals for readmissions. Many hospitals are partnering with (outpatient), primary care, ambulatory clinics and health centers to manage patients in the outpatient setting. This includes population health; therefore, creation of new positions is a necessity."
Devin Jenkins, Operations Administrator of Specialists Hospital Shreveport, Louisiana, says he agrees, "that services have been shifting to the ambulatory setting for many years. I think we have all been hearing about it for so long, but it is a reality now and no longer simply a concept. This is an exciting time to be in healthcare if you are able to embrace change and be a change agent."
This trend is also seen in other countries as well. For example, Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharyawho is the Senior Medical Superintendent at the Narayana Health R T Int'l Institute of Cardiac Services of India stated that, "short stay cases are on the rise." He added that, "conversion rates for OP (outpatient) to IP (inpatient) is dwindling," which he says is a win-win for all.
Dr. Ahmed Okba, Chief Medical Utilization Management Officer for Unity Point Health-Trinity, concludes that the trend, "is due to the shift in the care model to outpatient rather than the 'inpatient expensive' care. The more cost effective care OP (outpatient) is the normal economic shift according to (a) consumer driven market. Now the patients are being touched and affected with large co-pays, which leads to better choices economically..." Okba added that another reason larger health systems are starting to enter the ambulatory market in great numbers is, "to care for the patients in an economically smart way."
In addition, an increasing amount of retail health clinics are being opened by the large pharmacy chains like RiteAid, Walgreens and CVS. For example (shown in the video above), Peter Goldbach, CMO of RediClinic, a wholly owned subsidiary of RiteAid, shared in a recent video that they more than doubled the amount of healthcare clinics within a year and a half.
We have seen significant activity among our healthcare clients, including both outpatient-based organizations as well as large healthcare systems, stepping up their expansion efforts. In the case of larger health systems, they are beginning to open more of their own convenient care facilities in addition to urgent care facilities. This is a clear indication that outpatient clinics, including retail health (convenient care), are continuing to expand their footprint as a viable healthcare option for patients.
This also means increased competition recruiting for the same talent pool of nurse assistants, nurses, advanced practice nurses, physicians and practice managers. This trend of increased job growth for outpatient vs. inpatient is continuing at a fast pace and shows no major signs of slowing down. Embrace the change!