After the past few years of a pandemic, rising labor costs, and qualified healthcare workers leaving the industry in record numbers, what are the current market conditions?  

The industry has endured shortages on and off for decades, especially in key clinical positions of nurses and physicians. This nationwide shortage of clinical professionals is putting a tremendous strain on the healthcare sector, calling for creative solutions aimed at mitigating the ongoing crisis. 

In a new Syntellis survey, U.S. healthcare finance leaders cited their top priorities as:

  • Workforce optimization and productivity monitoring
  • Managing and reducing costs

Looking ahead to 2023, respondents identified employed and contract labor costs as the primary expenses most likely to keep them up at night, and it’s not hard to see why with challenges like rising hospital pay rates, shortages, and declining operating margins plaguing the industry.

As Sachin Jain stated in this article, because they finally have to, leaders of healthcare organizations will be forced to fix it. Not with pro forma yoga classes or subscriptions to meditation apps or burnout seminars. I mean really fix it. By streamlining work. By eliminating unnecessary administrative tasks. By promoting and honoring people in a real and authentic way. By making people feel like they matter again. By remembering that the people in your employ are the product in most healthcare organizations.

The Future Outlook

After the onset of the pandemic, hospitalizations quickly rose as widespread infections among workers limited the supply of available labor. The result was long hours, an extremely high-stress environment, deteriorating worker mental health, and provider burnout. The sector was already facing labor shortages, but with the arrival of the pandemic, the issue was further exacerbated. 

Identifying Long-Term Staffing Needs

Given projected shortages across various positions – from physicians to nurses – over the next decade, employers must begin establishing long-term strategies aimed at improving recruitment and retention. Overcoming current healthcare labor market conditions will require leaders to reimagine the workplace and implement solutions that put staff top-of-mind. Some potential areas of focus include:

Investing in Technology: An effective way to improve your facility’s ability to attract and retain staff is by investing in technology. For instance, striving to optimize the clinician workflow by eliminating repetitive, time-consuming, or low-value activities (Think: a cumbersome electronic health record (EHR) system). Leveraging automation can also decrease time spent handling non-clinical tasks, allowing staff to focus on the patient experience and delivering quality care. Similarly, adopting new work modalities, such as telemedicine, provides greater flexibility while allowing your organization to cast a wider net in terms of attracting both patients and talent. 

Moving Towards Collaborative Care: Redesigning your internal team structure and implementing interdisciplinary care teams will optimize patient care and ensure work is being properly allocated. Additionally, this approach will ensure you’re capitalizing on the strengths of your team members and driving higher satisfaction rates among staff. 

Adopting Flexible Staffing Models: Having an agile and flexible staffing strategy in place that proactively plans for things like unexpected coverage gaps and succession planning will play an integral role in optimizing care delivery and increasing retention. By mitigating long-term repercussions like high turnover, poor community health outcomes, and reduced profit margins, caused by an understaffed or overworked workforce, healthcare leaders will be equipped to scale and enjoy long-term, sustainable success.  

Looking Ahead

As healthcare staffing shortages continue to impact the industry, healthcare leaders need to begin implementing solutions geared toward driving growth, rather than hindering it. Remaining nimble is integral to weathering any uncertainties that crop up in the coming years. 

Here at Polaris, we’re helping hospitals and healthcare organizations drive revenue and improve patient outcomes through flexible, effective healthcare staffing solutions. In a time when healthcare workers are needed now more than ever, our team of recruitment experts can help your facility implement an innovative recruitment strategy. To learn more, contact the Polaris team today.