Kaiser's $130 million partnership takes aim at solving healthcare worker shortage

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | January 10, 2020
Futuro Health aims to reduce healthcare worker
shortage by training individuals as allied healthcare
Kaiser Permanente has teamed up with Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) to form Futuro Health, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of available healthcare workers.

The establishment of the $130 million entity is meant to address the shortage of healthcare workers in California, which is expected to require approximately 500,000 new healthcare workers by 2024. The aim of Futuro Health is to graduate 10,000 new licensed, credentialed allied healthcare workers in the state over the next four years.

"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 in a statement. "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."

A projected 44.1 million are expected to make up the population of California by 2030, with 8.6 million aged 65 and up, nearly double the five million recorded in 2014.

Futuro Health, which Kaiser and SEIU-UHW agreed to form in October, will help to prepare for this increase in population by training individuals as allied health professionals, who provide critical services for clinical, administrative and supportive tasks. These occupations include licensed nurses, medical coders, health information technicians, radiological technicians and laboratory workers.

The need for more allied healthcare professionals stems from increased credentialing requirements, which is hindered by student debt, according to focus groups conducted by SEIU-UHW. They found that even those already in allied health jobs find student debt prevents them from obtaining the next credential they need to move up into careers that healthcare providers are demanding for more to join.

Kaiser and SEIU-UHW believe increased awareness of allied healthcare careers, along with education planning, education financing and personal mentoring, will help those not in the industry take an interest and consider it as an option.

Futuro Health will provide a new education-to-work model that will help candidates through career exploration and coaching, education financing, and targeted education-to-work pathways toward their credential or licensure attainment.

SEIU-UHW’s 100,000 members, most of whom work in hospitals, will aid in the endeavor by scouting, recruiting and coaching students. Futuro Health is also partnering with Western Governors University to offer students an affordable competency-based education pathway for obtaining credentials to become medical coders, medical assistants and care coordinators.

"I am honored to lead Futuro Health," said Van Ton-Quinlivan, who will serve as its inaugural chief executive officer. "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."

Futuro Health will start in California, but eventually plans to expand its model to other states.

Additional partnerships are in the works.

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