Technological Change and Frontline Care Delivery Work: Toward the Quadruple Aim
Litwin, Adam Seth. 2021. “Technological Change and Frontline Care Delivery Work: Toward the Quadruple Aim.” Advances in Health Care Management, 20: 99-142.
40 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2022
Date Written: December 1, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic stressed the health care sector’s longstanding pain points, including the poor quality of frontline work and the staffing challenges that result from it. This has renewed interest in technology-centered approaches to achieving not only the “Triple Aim” of reducing costs while raising access and quality, but the “Quadruple Aim” of doing so without further squeezing wages and abrading job quality for frontline workers.
How can we leverage technology toward the achievement of the Quadruple Aim? I view this as a “grand challenge” for health care managers and policymakers. Those looking for guidance will find that most analyses of the workforce impact of technological change consider broad classes of technology such as computers or robots outside of any particular industry context. Further, they typically predict changes in work or labor market outcomes will come about at some ill-defined point in the medium to long run. This decontextualization and detemporization proves markedly problematic in the health care sector: the non-market, institutional factors driving technology adoption and implementation loom especially large in frontline care delivery, and managers and policymakers understandably must consider a well-defined, near-term, i.e., 5-10-year, time horizon.
This study is predicated on interviews with hospital and home health agency administrators, union representatives, health care information technology (IT) experts and consultants, and technology developers. I detail the near-term drivers and anticipated workforce impact of technological changes in frontline care delivery. With my emergent prescriptions for managers and policymakers, I hope to guide sectoral actors in using technology to address the “grand challenge” inherent to achieving the Quadruple Aim.
Funding: Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the SEIU California State Council. The Cornell University ILR School’s “Technology and the Future of Work”theme project grant delivered additional financial support, as did the David M. and Abby Joseph Cohen Summer Research Fund.
Declaration of Interests: None to declare.
Keywords: health care workforce, health care management, health policy, health information technology (HIT), Quadruple Aim, Triple Aim
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