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What happens when the tasks dry up? Exploring the impact of medical technology on workforce planning

Maynou, L., McGuire, A. & Serra-Sastre, V. ORCID: 0000-0002-6329-4507 (2024). What happens when the tasks dry up? Exploring the impact of medical technology on workforce planning. Social Science & Medicine, 352, article number 117014. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2024.117014


Increasing evidence suggests that new technologies tend to substitute for low skilled labour and complement highly skilled labour. This paper considers the manner in which new technology impacts on two distinct groups of highly skilled health care labour, cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. We consider the diffusion impact of PCI as it replaces CABG in the treatment of cardiovascular disease in the English NHS, and explicitly estimate the degree to which the cardiac surgical workforce reacts to this newer technology. Using administrative data we trace the complementarity between CABG and PCI during the mature phase of technology adoption, mapped against an increasing employment of cardiologists as they replace cardiothoracic surgeons. Our findings show evidence of growing employment of cardiologists, as PCI is increasingly expanded to older and sicker patients. While in cardiothoracic surgery, surgeons compensate falling CABG rates in a manner consistent with undertaking replacement activity and redeployment. While for cardiologists this reflects the general findings in the literature, that new technology enhances rather than substitutes for skilled labour, for the surgeons the new technology leads to redeployment rather than a downsizing of their labour.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is available under the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC license and permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: technological diffusion, complementarity, high-skilled workforce, workforce elasticity, task reallocation
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Economics
SWORD Depositor:
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