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Healthcare staffing to grow 4% in 2019, but question remains about recession in 2020 — Healthcare Staffing Summit

November 06 2018

From consolidation in the hospital industry to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (on the ballot today in four states), SIA Research Director Tony Gregoire delivered a keynote speech on the environment for healthcare and healthcare staffing.

The speech came at today’s start of Staffing Industry Analysts’ Healthcare Staffing Summit in Denver.

Gregoire noted US healthcare temporary staffing revenue grew 7% in 2017 to $16.2 billion — down from a rate of 15% in 2016.

Looking ahead, that growth rate is projected to be 3% this year, but then rise to 4% in 2019.

Gregoire said projections for revenue growth in 2020 are murkier given the possibility of a recession, among other variables. He said the 2020 growth rate could range from a decline of 10% to an increase of 8%.

“The risk (of a recession) is always there, but I think in 2020 it becomes more substantial,” Gregoire said. Two-thirds of economists polled by the National Association of Business Economics projected a recession by the end of 2020, he noted. However, “it’s not necessarily a given,” Gregoire said. “Economic expansion periods don’t necessarily die of old age, they are often preventable.” Wages may also rise without general inflation, and that could prompt the Fed to raise interest rates substantially.

And for 2019, Gregoire noted the 4% growth won’t necessarily be average for all firms as more healthcare staffing firms enter the industry and take some of the business.

The healthcare staffing industry will also be affected by changing technology as AI crunches data. Gregoire noted that Google’s AI has already beaten doctors at spotting eye disease.

“What an exciting time the future should be,” Gregoire said in closing. And while the 4% growth in 2019 won’t necessarily be average, the rest of the conference will help healthcare staffing firms understand how to stand out, he added.

The importance of technology to healthcare staffing was also discussed during a separate panel on allied healthcare this morning at the conference.

“Technology has just changed the game,” said panelist Andrew Limouris, president and CEO of healthcare staffing firm Medix. In the past, internal staffing firm workers had to put together a call list at the end of every day for the next day; now the call list is completed for them by AI.

Still, Limouris pointed out that technology will still only get you to a certain point. The human element remains crucial.

The Healthcare Staffing Summit continues today through tomorrow.

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