Nfld. & Labrador

More tech, better work-life balance coming to health care as millennials take charge

The incoming generation of health care leaders are shaking up the system, says a panel of experts at a conference in St. John's this week.

Facebook Live, apps provide 'opportunities for a better work-life balance'

Young doctors and other workers are increasing technology use in health care as they move into leadership spots in the system. (Shutterstock)

Increased technology use and a better work-life balance are just a few of the changes millennials are making to the healthcare system as they take over the reins from baby boomers, says a health care networking specialist.

"One of the advantages of younger physicians is that they are digital natives," said Melicent Lavers, the co-chair of Emerging Health Leaders Toronto, a Canada-wide network that aims to share knowledge among the next generation of healthcare professionals, which she defines as anyone with less than 15 years of working experience.

Speaking at the National Health Leadership Conference in St. John's on Monday, Lavers outlined how millennial health-care professionals — including, but not limited to, doctors — are bringing their tech-savvy skills into the workplace.

"Many emerging health leaders are starting to use Facebook Live as a tool to connect and engage with peers and patients," she said

But along with the advantages of social media, Lavers said the system must ensure there are policies surrounding its use, so such tools are used "to hear the patients' needs." 

Malicent Lavers works with the Toronto chapter of Emerging Health Leaders. (Twitter)

Work-life balance

According to Lavers, health institutions face big challenges hiring and keeping young talent in the medical field.

"Emerging health leaders have a different set of values and look at work differently," said Lavers.

"[They] want to travel more, they want to collaborate and they want to take part in decision-making at a younger age."

A human resources expert echoed that sentiment, saying employers need to start redefining what job performance looks like, and move away from the idea that dedication is measured primarily by the amount of time spent at work.

"Getting your head around what performance means, and how to flex time and hours for somebody who wants more balance is going to be important," said Jess Chapman, the owner of EThree Consulting.

Being more creative in the way we think about work is going to be important.- Jess Chapman

"Starting to think about different work structures, allowing people to work different shift patterns, allowing people to share jobs and being more creative in the way we think about work is going to be very important."

Both Chapman and Lavers see technology as a way to help give millennials their much-desired balance.

"Technology provides opportunities for a better work-life balance. Some practitioners are already using apps to see patients remotely," said Lavers.

The generation gap

The younger generation's digital fluency can also be an asset to older physicians and health care workers.

"Hiring young leaders and having them engaged throughout organizations provides a lot of opportunity for new learning. For emerging health leaders, mid-level leaders and even senior leaders," said Michelle Moonesar, a co-chair with Emerging Health Leaders Canada.

"The generational gap is not a bad thing."

Lavers agreed.

"Artificial intelligence is coming along, and [millennials] already understand the value of that. So by combining the young physicians, and their ability to use technology, with all the experience of senior physicians ... that would make for the best health care system."

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