Staffing shortages in healthcare are reaching critical levels, and patient safety and provider reputation are at stake.
Statistics show that healthcare has lost 20% of its workforce in the past two years. More than 1.7 million healthcare workers have already quit their jobs this year. And a new study by Elsevier Health predicts a staggering 75% of healthcare workers will quit their jobs by 2025.
The mass exodus is being dubbed ‘healthcare’s great resignation.’
This comes at a time when growth in the healthcare sector is expected to skyrocket. An ageing population and better health insurance coverage means an increasing number of people are seeking routine healthcare.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2031 openings in healthcare occupations will increase by 13%, amounting to 1.9 million new job vacancies each year from growth and replacement needs.
For healthcare providers, addressing staff shortages has catapulted to the top of the agenda. For most organizations this means an overhaul of recruitment strategies, a focus on staff retention and well-being, and a review of working practices to achieve workflow efficiencies.
Digital tools are increasingly relevant.
Improve workflow, save staff time
Arrivals: Busy waiting rooms disappeared during the pandemic. They were replaced by virtual waiting rooms, which enabled patients to check-in from outside a facility, a necessary safety precaution amidst COVID-19.
Digital tools were used to streamline the arrivals process and made it safer for patients to access care. These included digital intake forms, online scheduling and wait time view, and mobile QR code and kiosk check-in.
Digital intake forms were a big part of the redesign of arrivals to minimize contact touchpoints for patients and staff. Now patients can complete registration forms online prior to their appointment. This has enabled work efficiencies with less reception staff required at the arrivals desk and forms being verified pre-visit.
It means reception staff no longer have to key in patient information or handle form queries when patients arrive. Digital intake also reduces the number of admin errors.
Patient flow: Software to improve visibility brings benefits to both patients and staff. Patients enjoy a smoother healthcare visit and get an all-round better experience, while staff have a much clearer picture of where patients are. Without true visibility, staff waste a lot of time trying to track down patients. This is as frustrating for staff as it is for patients.
You can’t fix what you can’t see. Patient flow software helps to identify bottlenecks so problems can be addressed. PatientTrak, for example, gives you a complete operational overview and enables you to pinpoint individual capacity issues.
If a physician is persistently running late, you’ll be able to identify the real problem, rather than second guess what is causing the hold-up.
A patient flow solution that includes texting improves staff communication. Practitioners, nurses, and healthcare workers can communicate quickly and easily with each other via text, keeping everyone in the team connected and on the same page. With morale at an all-time low, camaraderie and feeling part of a team is vital to healthcare workers now.
Patient engagement: Patient compliance is another frustration for staff. No-shows, missed medication, and incomplete forms are just the tip of the iceberg. Patient engagement software helps patients to stay on track with medications, receive appointment reminders, get tips on self-care, and be kept up to date about new services.
With the right software solution, patient communications can be automated and sent to patients via text. This keeps patients informed and saves time.
When staff spend less time dealing with queries, they can get on with their real jobs – caring for patients!
Helping healthcare workers to thrive
Staff retention is a serious issue. Persistent understaffing hurts reputation and poses safety issues to patients. Poor retention also puts additional pressure on the remaining staff.
Staff are currently leaving in droves. Healthcare providers must understand what is causing the exodus and tackle the issues. The most common reasons cited when people leave healthcare jobs are:
- Insufficient pay
Ironically, a survey of healthcare workers, who left jobs due to burnout since the pandemic, were asked what led to them quitting; the top response was increased workload due to staff turnover!
In his article, Why Health-Care Workers Are Quitting In Droves, reporter Ed Yong, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, makes a salient point: “Health-care workers aren’t quitting because they can’t handle their jobs. They’re quitting because they can’t handle being unable to do their jobs.”
Katherine Virkstis, Managing Director and Senior Research Partner at The Advisory Board, a consulting company for healthcare organizations, says, “The current exodus from health care jobs isn’t a failure of workers who are in some way deficient.
Rather, there are systems issues and inconsistent priorities that compound into an overwhelming burden.” Virkstis argues that some fundamental basic needs are being overlooked. A key ‘crack’ in the foundation of needs, Virkstis says, comes from compromises in care delivery.
Many healthcare workers are quitting because they are too busy to provide the level of care that they want to.
That’s why digitizing workflow is so important right now. It is by far the easiest way to improve workflow and give staff back the time they need to be able to do their jobs.
How do you know which technologies and solutions to choose?
The boom in healthcare tech means the market is awash with solutions for everything from patient flow to patient engagement, reputation management, and a plethora of technologies that support home-based healthcare from wearables to telehealth.
The problem for healthcare providers isn’t finding solutions, it’s deciding which is the right solution for them.
At PatientTrak we listen carefully to the challenges you are trying to solve. Whether that is streamlining arrivals, resolving scheduling headaches, improving staff communications, creating better visibility so you know where your patients are, or reducing no-shows and making sure schedules are full, we make sure your staff are properly trained on our software and benefit from workflow efficiencies from day one.
Our patient flow, engagement and reputation management solutions are configured to suit your organization’s needs, helping your staff to be more effective and engaged in their work.
To find out more about the solutions we offer, contact our experts.
We are here to help you digitize your workflow and create an effective working environment for staff. With PatientTrak’s solutions, you can reduce the risk of burnout, stress and low morale.