GAO Report Calls HHS Workforce Management into Question | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

GAO Report Calls HHS Workforce Management into Question

January 14, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

Despite overseeing 72 healthcare workforce programs, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacks comprehensive planning and oversight, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

For the report, GAO was asked to review HHS's workforce efforts. In the report, GAO examines (1) HHS's planning efforts for ensuring an adequate supply and distribution of the nation's healthcare workforce and (2) the extent to which individual HHS healthcare workforce programs contribute to meeting national needs. GAO did this by reviewing strategic planning documents, workforce projection reports, and other related documents obtained from HHS agencies; interviewing HHS officials; and analyzing performance measures for the largest healthcare workforce programs operated by HHS.

According to GAO, HHS's current strategic plan includes broad strategies—such as improving access to comprehensive primary and preventive medical services in historically underserved areas and supporting federally funded health centers—to which department officials said the healthcare workforce programs relate. However, these strategies do not explicitly reference workforce issues or specify how these programs contribute towards HHS's current strategic goals and performance targets. The healthcare workforce performance measures tracked by HHS and its agencies are specific to individual workforce programs and do not fully assess the overall adequacy of the department's workforce efforts, the report stated.

More specifically, while HHS's workforce programs support education and training for multiple health professions, its largest programs do not specifically target areas of workforce need, such as for primary care and rural providers, the report said. According to GAO, HHS’s “two Medicare GME [Graduate Medical Education] programs accounted for about three-quarters of HHS's fiscal year 2014 obligations for healthcare workforce development. However, HHS cannot target existing Medicare GME program funds to projected workforce shortage areas because the programs were established by statute and funds are disbursed based on a statutory formula that is unrelated to projected workforce needs.”

As such, GAO recommended that HHS develop a comprehensive and coordinated planning approach that includes performance measures, identifies any gaps between its workforce programs and national needs, and identifies actions to close these gaps. HHS concurred with GAO's recommendations, per the report.



NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.