Arizona Health Workforce Demand in a Rapidly Changing Market: Perspective of State Leaders


Lisel Blash and Joanne Spetz

June 22, 2016

This report presents findings from interviews with health care leaders across Arizona regarding the trends they are observing and their expectations for future health workforce needs. Sixteen health care leaders were interviewed to assess their plans in the face of health care delivery changes and how this will impact workforce needs.   From 2004 to 2013, employment grew in all health occupations by over 75 percent in Arizona. Future growth projections indicate massive shortages in all roles, but especially for physicians and nurses. For Arizona, the distribution of health care workers is complicated by significant geographic variation within the state. Summary of Findings:

  • Accountable care organizations and the growth of value-based purchasing have increased the focus on population health, integrating information systems and quality-based payments, but they also has caused system disruptions. 
  • Healthcare is shifting its focus away from solely clinical settings to community wellness and prevention, with greater requirements for patient self-management. 
  • Integration of behavioral health and primary care requires greater integration of information, reimbursement methods and licensing. 
  • Staff, providers and patients all need further education in the use of technologies and data documentation. 
  • Growth areas in health education:
    • new providers to learn the basic tenets of patient-centered care and how to better use information technology.
    • better coordination between hands-on experience and clinical simulations.
    • more medical assistants with updated training.
    • new degree programs to accommodate the new roles. 
  • Regulatory changes can facilitate better use of the health care workforce by streamlining and expanding certifications, licensure and communication across health care fields. 

The top three priorities among interviewees' for health workforce development were better use of technology, training/education and recruitment/retention. Their overall response indicated a need to simplify and update processes for students to enter health fields in all roles and to improve attractiveness of the field through compensation.