Logo courtesy of Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente: New Nonprofit to Address Health Care Worker Shortage

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.com.

Futuro Health seeks to grow nation’s largest network of health care workers.

Kaiser Permanente and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) have partnered to establish Futuro Health, a new $130 million nonprofit organization dedicated to growing the largest network of certified health care workers. Efforts will start in California and spread throughout the nation. California’s projected demand is approximately 500,000 new health care workers by 2024.

As part of a labor agreement reached last October between Kaiser Permanente and SEIU-UHW, Futuro Health was established to improve the health and wealth of communities by investing in allied health education and skills training and retraining. Allied health care services, critical to delivering high-quality health care, are provided by a wide range of clinical, administrative, and support professionals including licensed vocational nurses, medical coders, health information technicians, radiologic technicians, and laboratory workers.

Futuro Health aims to graduate 10,000 new licensed, credentialed allied health care workers in California over the next 4 years. While Futuro Health will begin its work within California to provide an affordable education-to-work solution, future plans include scaling the model to other states.

“Kaiser Permanente recognizes California’s health care industry is facing a projected workforce shortage of half a million people over the next few years,” said Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Greg Adams. “By investing in health education, skills training, and retraining programs with Futuro Health, Kaiser Permanente, in collaboration with SEIU-UHW, is leading efforts to reverse the shortage trend. This investment effort is consistent with our Nurse Scholars Academy and mental health postgraduate training program.”

California is growing as well as aging. By 2030, the population of California is projected to reach 44.1 million, and the total number of adults 65 and older will nearly double from 5 million in 2014 to 8.6 million in 2030. The allied health sector, often referred to as the “hidden health care workforce,” will be in high demand to support these demographic shifts.

“Futuro Health represents a new model for tackling the workforce shortage and training workers especially when they no longer stay with one employer for long,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW. “Ensuring that all people have access to high-quality, affordable health care and a living wage is a priority of SEIU-UHW.”

“Futuro Health will give health care workers the opportunity to increase their skills and grow their careers,” said Arlene Peasnall, senior vice president and interim chief human resources officer for Kaiser Permanente. “In addition to attracting new talent to the health care industry, it will help existing workers advance in well-paying, fulfilling careers.”

SEIU-UHW’s nearly 100,000 members, who mostly work in hospitals, will collaborate with Futuro Health and Kaiser Permanente to scout, recruit, and coach students.

“The nation will definitely be watching this novel approach for how to systemically build an in-demand workforce through partners that pull together resources at scale that students need to hone and increase to keep pace with their industry,” said Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of the National Skills Coalition.

To build a skilled health care workforce, multiple obstacles to affordable, quality allied health care education must be overcome. Allied health careers are requiring increased credentialing. Focus groups conducted by SEIU-UHW revealed that even for those already working in allied health jobs, the student debt incurred is a barrier to attaining the next credential for moving up into careers of acute demand by health care providers. For those individuals not already in the industry, increased awareness of career options as well as education planning, education financing, and personal mentoring can help increase interest.

Futuro Health will deliver a new education-to-work model that supports candidates through career exploration and coaching, education financing, and targeted education-to-work pathways toward their credential or licensure attainment. In addition to Kaiser Permanente and SEIU-UHW, Futuro Health is partnering with Western Governors University to provide students with an affordable competency-based education pathway for attaining credentials to become medical coders, medical assistants, and care coordinators. Additional partnerships are in the works.

Van Ton-Quinlivan will serve as Futuro Health’s inaugural chief executive officer. A nationally recognized thought leader in workforce development, she will draw on her private and public sector experience to design solutions that connect communities with careers.

“I am honored to lead Futuro Health,” said Ton-Quinlivan. “Our work is to create access to opportunity and lower the barriers that many individuals face when it comes to social mobility. This will also ensure more equitable access to good patient care across our country, state, and communities.”

Ton-Quinlivan most recently served as the executive vice chancellor of workforce and digital futures of the California Community Colleges, the largest higher education system in the nation with 115 institutions. As an appointee of former California Governor Jerry Brown, she grew public investments in career education programs from $100 million to more than $1 billion by establishing workforce development as a state policy priority. Ton-Quinlivan was named California Steward Leader by the California Economic Summit and White House Champion of Change by the Obama administration.

To learn more, visit www.FuturoHealth.org.

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