It's no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic created unforeseen challenges and has forced every industry to innovate and adapt in order to survive; and the healthcare industry is certainly not an exception. Medical facilities have altered procedures and created new policies in order to accommodate massive influxes of patients and improve patient outcomes — but it certainly hasn't been easy, and there are still some common pain points that many organizations still deal with.
Here we'll discuss the top healthcare issues facing hospitals today.
1. Employee Burnout and Personnel Shortages
The most significant healthcare issues that hospitals and other organizations have dealt with is employee burnout and overall personnel shortages. It ranked as the number one concern for hospital CEOs in 2021 but continues to be a proverbial thorn in the side of healthcare organizations, particularly when it comes to nursing staff. According to KFF, "As of the week ending March 20, 2022, the most recent data available, 28% of nursing facilities reported at least one staffing shortage (approximately 3,900 out of 14,000 facilities)."
There are numerous reasons why nursing staff has been in short supply:
- COVID-19 numbers: Staff shortages have actually coincided with spikes in COVID cases, especially when a new variant is discovered. When the Omicron variant gained traction, case numbers and hospitalizations set new records, which further stressed staff and led to more resignations.
- Turnover contagion: Even if just one or two employees resign, their peers will have to fill in the gaps and take on their duties. This, in turn, increases the chances that they will burn out quicker and resign, creating a sort of domino effect. This phenomenon, recently coined 'turnover contagion', has been particularly prevalent in the COVID era.
- Unruly patients: Working in a medical facility is already a high-stress job — the stakes are high because patient lives are in your hands. But add in extended hours, higher workload, and unruly patients, and staff tolerance has proven to plummet. In fact, around one-third of nurses plan to quit their job by the end of 2022, citing burnout and high stress as the number one factor. Tensions have been running high; and patients who are fed up with COVID restrictions have been misguiding their anger toward hospital staff. Surveys have found some 65% of nursing staff report that they've been verbally or physically attacked by a patient or a patient's family member in the past year.
To mitigate these pain points, Healthcare Workforce Logistics' (HWL) vendor management service model helps healthcare organizations access the reliable talent they need at competitive, yet affordable, rates. Through contract management, interview and screening services, onboarding, and more, HWL will help you each step of the way.
2. Financial Challenges
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations cite financial issues as the 2nd-most significant challenge that they face. Overall, hospital revenue numbers declined somewhat sharply during the pandemic for a few reasons:
- Non-emergency procedures: In order to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and provide quality care to the influx of patients infected by the coronavirus, many healthcare systems and local governments postponed elective and non-emergency medical procedures, which resulted in estimated losses of $16.3 to $17.7 billion per month.
- Delayed care: Because patients have been hesitant to visit medical facilities during a pandemic, there have been fewer non-COVID-related hospital visits in some locations. For instance, Chattanooga, TN hospitals saw a 45% decrease in emergency room visits for adults and 71% for children. Meanwhile, Illinois hospitals saw a $1.4 billion per month loss in revenue due to canceled surgeries.
- Cost increases: Despite surges of new patients, COVID-19 patients really aren't lucrative — especially if a ventilator is required. This is because the cost of care skyrockets and the duration of treatment increases. It is estimated that the median cost of ventilator treatment for more than 96 hours is $88,114 per patient, and $34,225 for less than 96 hours. Taking into account that it's not uncommon for COVID-19 patients to be on a ventilator for up to 3 weeks, suddenly one can imagine how sharply costs increase.
- Drug prices: Since the pandemic has affected nearly every type of supply chain, it comes as no surprise that certain operating costs have increased. Drug expenses per discharge have increased by an average of around 36% year over year, according to a Kaufman Hall report.
- Supply cost increases: Desperate times call for desperate measures; and equipment shortages have caused much desperation for medical facilities. In fact, New York state data shows that they've paid up to 15 times the normal prices for medical equipment — even basic PPE. Vital supplies such as gloves, masks, and even x-rays are either out of reach or severely cut into budgets.
Each of these factors is enough to cause some worry, but medical facilities have been dealing with all of these issues (and more) at the same time. So it's no wonder why hospital CEOs cite financial issues as the number two problem that they face this year.
HWL has been the go-to partner for healthcare organizations across the US when they need to contain costs. Our create-your-own internal agency program has helped reduce costs by 10-15% for a number of facilities. Find out how we can help you by getting in touch today.
3. Patient Safety and Quality of Care
Patient safety and quality of care are always some of the top priorities for healthcare leadership. However, it has been doubly true during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Patient hesitancy: As we outlined above, patients have been more hesitant to pursue care during the coronavirus pandemic for a few reasons. One, non-emergency surgeries were discontinued in order to accommodate the influx of COVID patients. Two, the thought of visiting a place where COVID patients are treated is not worth the risk for some people. Patients who would otherwise seek treatment for their issues are instead forgoing it, leaving their problems to fester and develop into more severe ailments down the road.
- Vaccination refusal: Hospital staff have found themselves exceptionally frustrated by vaccine hesitancy. Refusal to receive any of the COVID vaccines has not only led to increases in patient admittance, it also leads to more severe sickness when patients do contract COVID. This is particularly true of newer variants, such as Omicron, which tend to more heavily affect the non-vaccinated. It goes without saying that healthcare professionals want their patients to take every precaution possible in order to protect themselves and everyone around them; and such vaccine hesitancy has led to further frustrations.
To combat any deficiencies in patient care or wellbeing, HWL has you covered. We offer full-service clinical interviewing and screening to determine the skills required, cultural fit, experience, etc. for the staff to be successful, as well as to ensure high-quality patient outcomes.
From here, HWL will develop screening tools, interview candidates, and confirm the assignments. To learn more about this process, get in touch with us today.
HWL is Here to Help
Healthcare Workforce Logistics (HWL) has helped countless healthcare organizations contain their costs and find the talent they need to succeed during difficult times. We provide a program that gives you access to the entire market and the ability to negotiate rates freely so you retain control over costs.
To learn more, get in touch today.