A regional health authority in Toronto, Canada, identified health workforce planning as an essential input to the implementation of their comprehensive Primary Care Strategy. The goal of this project was to develop an evidence-informed toolkit for integrated, multi-professional, needs-based primary care workforce planning for the region. This article presents the qualitative workforce planning processes included in the toolkit.
To inform the workforce planning process, we undertook a targeted review of the health workforce planning literature and an assessment of existing planning models. We assessed models based on their alignment with the core needs and key challenges of the health authority: multi-professional, population needs-based, accommodating short-term planning horizons and multiple planning scales, and addressing key challenges including population mobility and changing provider practice patterns. We also assessed the strength of evidence surrounding the models’ performance and acceptability.
We developed a fit-for-purpose health workforce planning toolkit, integrating elements from existing models and embedding key features that address the region’s specific planning needs and objectives. The toolkit outlines qualitative workforce planning processes, including scenario generation tools that provide opportunities for patient and provider engagement. Tools include STEEPLED Analysis, SWOT Analysis, an adaptation of Porter’s Five Forces Framework, and Causal Loop Diagrams. These planning processes enable the selection of policy interventions that are robust to uncertainty and that are appropriate and acceptable at the regional level.
The qualitative inputs that inform health workforce planning processes are often overlooked, but they represent an essential part of an evidence-informed toolkit to support integrated, multi-professional, needs-based primary care workforce planning.