Chapter 13: Key considerations in health workforce planning
Open access

Health workforce planning can address current workforce challenges and prevent future crises. In well-functioning health systems, planning supports alignment of health workforce supply, distribution, mix and performance with population health needs. Planning exercises adopting leading practices described in this chapter are evidence informed, needs-based, multi-professional, mixed methods, locally relevant, iterative, interactive, and robust against uncertainty. Recognizing the structural and political, data-related, and methodological challenges associated with the application of leading practices, this chapter outlines frontiers in planning, along with opportunities related to data, tools, capacity, and engagement. The integration of theoretical foundations into planning exercises can enhance the practical value of planning and its capacity to support improved population health, enhanced care experience, reduced costs, workforce well-being, and health equity outcomes. Ultimately, more attention to health workforce planning is necessary to promote efficient and effective functioning of health care systems, the sustainability of the health workforce, and optimal patient care outcomes.

  • Asamani, J. A., Christmals, C. D., & Reitsma, G. M. (2021). The needs-based health workforce planning method: a systematic scoping review of analytical applications. Health Policy and Planning, 36(8), 1325–43.

  • Barocas, J., Goundas, C., & Madad, S. (2021). Just-in-time versus just-in-case pandemic preparedness. Health Affairs Blog. https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20210208.534836/full/.

  • Beck, A. J., Singer, P. M., Buche, J., Manderscheid, R. W., & Buerhaus, P. (2018). Improving data for behavioral health workforce planning: development of a minimum data set. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 54(6), S192–S198.

  • Begun, J. W., Zimmerman, B., & Dooley, K. J. (2003). Health care organizations as complex adaptive systems. In Mick, S. S., & Wyttenbach, M. E. (eds), Advances in Health Care Organization Theory (1st edn, pp. 253–88). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Bourgeault, I. L. (2021). A path to improved health workforce planning, policy & management in Canada: the critical coordinating and convening roles for the federal government to play in addressing 8% of its GDP. University of Calgary School of Public Policy Publications, Vol. 14, No. 1. https://doi.org/10.11575/sppp.v14i1.74064.

  • Bourgeault, I. L., & Chamberland-Rowe, C. (2022). Introduction. In I. L. Bourgeault (ed.), Introduction to the Health Workforce in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Health Workforce Network.

  • Bourgeault, I. L., Demers, C., & Bray, E. (2015). The need for a pan-Canadian health human resources strategy. In Carson, S., Nossal, K., & Dixon, J. (eds), Toward a Healthcare Strategy for Canadians (pp. 63–86). Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

  • Bourgeault, I. L., & Mulvale, G. (2006). Collaborative health care teams in Canada and the U.S.: confronting the structural embeddedness of medical dominance. Health Sociology Review, 15(5), 481–95.

  • Campbell, J., Buchan, J., Cometto, G., David, B., Dussault, G., Fogstad, H., Fronteira, I., Lozano, R., Nyonator, F., Pablos-Méndez, A., Quain, E. E., Starrs, A., & Tangcharoensathien, V. (2013). Human resources for health and universal health coverage: fostering equity and effective coverage. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 91(11), 853–63.

  • Centre for Workforce Intelligence (2014). Robust Workforce Planning Framework: Update from Practice. London: CfWI.

  • Chamberland-Rowe, C., Simkin, S., & Bourgeault, I. L. (2021). An integrated primary care workforce planning toolkit at the regional level (part 1): qualitative tools compiled for decision-makers in Toronto, Canada. Human Resources for Health, 19(1), 85. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12960-021-00610-2.

  • Hall, T. L., & Mejia, A. (1978). Health Manpower Planning: Principles, Methods, Issues. Geneva: World Health Organization.

  • House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (2019). Violence facing health care workers in Canada. https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/HESA/report-29/.

  • Johnson, G., Scholes, K., & Whittington, R. (2008). Exploring Corporate Strategy. Harlow: Pearson Education.

  • Kunjumen, T., Okech, M., Diallo, K., Msquide, P., Zapata, T., & Campbell, J. (2022). Global experiences in health workforce policy, planning and management using the Workload Indicators of Staffing Need (WISN) method, and way forward. Human Resources for Health, 19(152). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12960-021-00695-9.

  • Mintzberg, H., Ahlstrand, B., & Lampel, J. (1998). Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour through the Wilds of Strategic Management. New York: Free Press.

  • Nundy, S., Cooper, L. A., & Mate, K. S. (2022). The quintuple aim for health care improvement: a new imperative to advance health equity. JAMA, 327(6), 521–2. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.25181.

  • Porter, M. (2008). The Five Competitive Forces that Shape Strategy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

  • Richardson, G. P. (1991). System dynamics: simulation for policy analysis from a feedback perspective. In Fishwick, P. A., & Luker, P. A. (eds), Qualitative Simulation Modeling and Analysis (pp. 144–69). New York: Springer.

  • WHO [World Health Organization] (2011). Human resources for health observatories: an overview. Global meeting of HRH observatories: evidence-informed HRH policies: the contribution of HRH observatories. Lisbon, 4–7 July.

  • WHO [World Health Organization] (2016). Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030. Geneva: WHO.