How the Staffing Shortage is Impacting Health Systems Today
Healthcare providers and health systems across the nation are experiencing an unprecedented shortage of physicians, nurses, and support staff. Coinciding with the on-going global pandemic, a series of different underlying issues within the healthcare labor landscape have converged to create a severe labor crunch at a time when health systems are experiencing an incredible need for qualified healthcare professionals.
There are several factors that have contributed to the staffing shortage, and not all of them are related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic began, the healthcare professions were facing widespread burnout and attrition among physicians and nurses. Long hours, rigorous education, and qualification standards, and crushing workloads all contributed to staffing shortages in many communities.
These issues were only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which brought on higher patient volumes as well as resistance among some healthcare workers to federal and state mandated COVID-19 vaccine policies. The result has been a stunning shortage of physicians, nurses, and support staff across the country.
The Negative Effects on Care
Naturally, the lack of qualified healthcare staff has caused a measurable decline in many health system’s ability to deliver quality care. Lack of proper staff has forced health systems to adapt, in many cases, by reducing the options for treatments and care therapies. Some healthcare providers have reduced the number of treatments or procedures such as cancer screenings and elective or non-emergency surgeries.
This has been particularly dramatic in the field of mental health. According to studies released by the AHA, nearly 60% of Americans with a behavioral condition report not receiving medical services for their condition and over 100 million Americans live in areas that are experiencing a shortage of psychiatrists.
But a reduction in available treatments and procedures can have a catastrophic effect on patient populations. For instance, it’s been estimated that as many as ten million cancer screenings were missed by patients during the pandemic. Such screenings are invaluable in early detection of cancers and could lead to increased cancer rates and cancer-related fatalities in the coming months and years.
No End In Sight
Unfortunately, it also appears that staffing shortages may worsen in the coming months. As healthcare workers are further strained by understaffed teams, issues have the potential to trigger dangerous positive feedback loops.
As more healthcare workers leave the profession, they leave behind ever-increasing workloads for their remaining colleagues. As the workload per healthcare worker increases, further attrition would only increase workloads, which would contribute to a corresponding increase in attrition and strain on teams.
It’s understandable to see then why so many industry leaders fear that staffing shortages are likely to persist well into 2022 and beyond. A 2021 survey conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly 30% of active healthcare workers are considering leaving the healthcare profession and the AHA has forecasted that at current rates of attrition, that the US may face a shortage of 124,000 physicians by 2033.
Bridging the Gap with the Right Platforms and Technology
As healthcare providers scramble to keep their teams operational, it’s clear that an alternative is necessary for health systems to maintain their teams and quality of care. While the staffing shortage will only be completely solved from a multi-pronged approach involving healthcare providers, public leaders and educational institutions, health systems can use new platforms and technologies to reduce the burden on their teams and departments.
For example, using outside vendors to help with time-intensive functions such as setting up payment plans for patients can help reduce the administrative needs on health system teams and workers, thereby allowing them to focus their limited energy and resources on patient care and treatment. Reducing the need for administrative and billing tasks can have a significant improvement in healthcare staff morale and enthusiasm. As researchers have estimated that some healthcare workers spend as much as two thirds of their time dealing with paperwork and other administrative tasks.
How AccessOne Can Help
As a patient financing provider, AccessOne specializes in handling all billing, finance, and administrative tasks between your patients and your health system. Within our model, we handle all communication and financial coordination between your revenue and administrative teams and patients. We’ve found that this can significantly decrease the resources that your teams have to devote to coordinating billing and financing plans with patients, as well as providing customer service. By taking on servicing of patient payment plans and providing patients with multiple avenues of self-service, the amount of patient calls into health system call centers reduce dramatically.
We invite you to learn more about how AccessOne’s solutions can help your health systems reduce strain on teams and alleviate the negative impacts of staffing shortages.