The "Human Resources for Health Care" (HRHC) study is conceived as a component of the OECD Health Project. Human resources are an essential factor in the provision of health care, directly influencing the performance of health-care systems. This study focuses on the two main categories of workers engaged in the health-care system: physicians and nurses.
Accessible health care requires well-trained and well-motivated physician and nurse workforces of an adequate size that are able to deliver safe, high-quality medical services. However, concerns have been voiced in many OECD countries that a gap may be looming between demand for and supply of physicians and nurses. Demand is likely to increase due to population ageing, technological advances, and higher patient expectations. On the other hand, supply is expected to fall or at best grow slowly (in the absence of countermeasures) as a result of a societal trend towards reduced hours of work, physician and nurse workforce ageing, and trends towards early and partial retirement.
The HRHC study analyses how decision makers can ensure an adequate supply of physicians and nurses. The project explores international variability in employment of physicians and nurses; the extent of shortages and surpluses; and the effectiveness of certain management policies for influencing the supply of physicians and nurses across OECD countries.
The project is intended to provide decision-makers with evidence-based policies in this field, through a detailed empirical and policy analysis of best practices in OECD countries. The study addresses two main issues:
- What are the policy and planning tools available to policy-makers to influence the size, distribution and composition of the physician and nurse workforces in order to improve access for all citizens while preserving the affordability of health systems?
- What are the policy tools, financial incentives and skill mix arrangements available to improve health care system performance through a more efficient use of human resources?
How the study is conducted?
A network of national correspondents nominated by countries participating in the project has been established. The network assists the Secretariat in gathering the quantitative and qualitative information required for the project. A desk review of published material and secondary analysis of existing data supplements the information provided by national correspondents.