Healthcare workforce summit discusses technology, Delaware’s reliance on “meds and eds”

David Beckam

Could technology ever replace humans? In healthcare, it’s unlikely.

The all-day Stern Future Healthcare Workforce Summit at STAR Tower at the University of Delaware featured speakers from across the globe to discuss this theme, and others, all about the future of healthcare.

Kathy Matt, Dean of UD’s College of Health Sciences, says while the COVID pandemic opened a world of possibilities for healthcare technology, the human aspect of the field can never be replaced.

“I think it is why we call it ‘healing arts’ and the ‘art of medicine,'” Matt said. “It also makes me think about how we’re training our students and what we are teaching them. So the connectedness to individuals and empathy and compassion, and just really a sensitivity to understanding their patients and their caregivers and their life and their family members.”

Speakers like Robin Goldsmith, Health Innovation Principal of Verizon, and Bertalan Meskó, Director of The Medical Futurist Institute, discussed how tele-health, hospitals at home, and artificial intelligence diagnostics can be beneficial, but need reliable broadband to work. And Matt says interconnected training for the workforce of the future is also required.

“Like we could fix you medically, but if you don’t have all these other things that are positive in terms of social determinants of health, you’re going to get sick again,” Matt said. “So how do we rethink that?”

She also emphasizes the pressure on academic institutions, like UD, to push out workforce-ready healthcare graduates, and more of them.

“We really have to partner in this,” Matt said. “Because we need to know at the clinic and the hospital side, and where our students will be employed, what do you need those workers to be able to do and look like and what characteristics will be the best for you and high functioning. And then on the academic side we need to build that into our training. But financially, we all need to work together on this.”

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia president and CEO Patrick Harker announced the launch of the first-ever national data set measuring the importance of anchor institutions to their regional economies. Data shows that Delaware is 23% more dependent on eds and meds for jobs, income, and gross value added than the country as a whole.

Harker also says the extremely tight supply of physicians in the United States keeps costs high, and in Delaware, there are relatively few doctors to serve the aging population.

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