Topics: Data Collection, Workforce Demand
A: Demand for health services can be difficult to measure, and data availability varies. Broadly speaking, demand for health services can be split into 2 categories:
Utilization can be measured by claims data and sample surveys such as the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS), but this underestimates demand for services. Data measuring unmet need is not systematically collected, and thus must be estimated or captured through individual surveys.
From the supply side, job vacancy, turnover, recruiting bonuses, and employment projections are also indicators of demand for health care services and workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks changes in employment and projects future employment estimates. Job vacancy data can be tracked through job boards or proprietary data sources such as Burning Glass Industries. Other vacancy, turnover, and bonus data can be tracked through hospital and other industry surveys. An example of state-level demand tracking is the Washington Health Workforce Sentinel Network. The Sentinel Network links health care employers with educators, policymakers and workforce planners to identify and respond to new and changing demand for healthcare workers, skills and roles.
Patient population factors, such as aging of the population, and policy changes that affect insurance coverage and disease burden, also influence future estimates of demand.