"Qualifying" is an urgent need in health biz

Michael Schumacher once won nearly every qualifying in Formula One. But Germany won't win the world championship in qualification of their healthcare workers, neither, however, would most European countries. The lack of well-trained employees in healthcare may turn out to be a major setback for the booming branch.

Training is the best guarantee for success.
Training is the best guarantee for success.
Every politician, every entrepreneur, every human resource manager knows: training and qualification of employees are the best guarantees for success. “Therefore I wonder why nobody takes care of the healthcare staff although the medical and health sector is considered to be one of the most future-oriented markets”, Michaela Evans says. Recently the researcher for health management at the Institute for Work and Technology investigated the level of education of healthcare workers in Germany. She arrived at the sobering conclusion that the so-called future-oriented market might be obstructing itself due to a lack of qualification.
 
“We wanted to know what kind of challenges health management will have to face in the future and what will be the consequences for the job,” Evans explains the aim of her study. Hence she looked at various studies that investigated the development of the healthcare sector.
 
The problems became rapidly clear: The system is in urgent need for more efficient processes but “most new workflows were dictated top down and hospital management often forgets to integrate nurses or physicians in the evaluation process,” says Evans. Therefore, she added, management did not realize the consequences of their decisions. As a result, in some hospitals or retirement homes nurses currently need more time for documentation than for care.
 
In her study Michaela Evans concludes that healthcare sectors have to introduce concepts for human resource development which were successfully applied in other industries, “a particular example being the automotive industry where further vocational training and process-oriented workflows are very common”, she says. Evans points out that the lack of qualification might lead to further problems. Often auxiliary nurses work side by side with medical employees and the responsibilities are not clearly defined.
 
The study investigated the situation in Germany. But Joseph Hilbert, also of the Institute for Work and Technology, who was not involved in the study, is convinced that “we are facing the same problem all over Europe”. Even if the system of highly trained healthcare workers is more prevalent in the United Kingdom and in Scandinavia, these nations will also have to struggle with this problems.
 
Great Britain though has already reacted and prepared a concept. The Sector Qualification Strategy (SQS) is a initiative by “Skills for Health”, an organization whose aim it is to set out requirements for vocational qualifications and to ensure these are designed by and for persons involved in the sector. Development of the SQS involved a review of the Labour Market Intelligence research and analysis of the qualifications available to those working in the NHS, private, independent and voluntary sectors. The organization ensures that qualifications are driven by employer need to meet the requirements of patients and service users.
 
“Andalusia also has a big interest in an efficient and excellently working health service in order to keep all the wealthy elderly expats in the region”, Hilbert says. For this reason local health services implemented new techniques to make sure that ambient assisted living (AAL) offers the best care. In the Netherlands as well an AAL-village was established near Eindhoven where all vital parameters of the elderly residents are measured by specialized medical service centres. Particular employees of telemedicine offices need high skills in order to be able to react properly. “If European politicians don’t develop a human resource concept the booming health management will not be the growth engine everybody is talking about”, Hilbert says. And anyway, Formula One demonstrates that currently Brit Lewis Hamilton has an edge over the competition.
 
Photo: Universtity Hospital of Heidelberg

22.07.2008

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