Solving the Healthcare Workforce Supply Problem

Recently, Dr. Jeffrey S. Flier, distinguished service professor and former dean of the faculty of medicine at Harvard University, joined Leck Shannon, healthcare program manager for the Mercatus Center, to talk about his recent work with Jared Rhoads on The US Health Provider Workforce.

We started by discussing what Dr. Flier calls “the supply side” of the healthcare workforce. In other words, we talked about how many healthcare providers there are, and how they are educated, trained, and licensed.

That matters, because the number and type of healthcare providers can determine a host of other healthcare outcomes. Dr. Flier pointed to shortages in the supply of providers, both because an aging population will require more healthcare providers, and because the health provider workforce is, itself, aging.


  • Shannon and Dr. Flier discuss the “iron triangle” of healthcare, identifying ways in which improving the healthcare provider workforce can help reduce costs, improve quality, and expand access.
  • Dr. Flier explains the history of the accreditation process for medical schools in America, and points out how the current system could hamper innovation.
  • Dr. Flier points out the challenges faced by foreign medical graduates seeking employment in the US, and how improving their path to US healthcare careers could help address the shortage in the health provider workforce.

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