It’s a difficult environment for healthcare organizations at the moment: the difficulties can be felt from the bedside to the boardroom, as worker burnout comes at a time of rising hospitalizations due to an aging population.
While health sales have been brisk throughout all sectors, this is tempered by shortages that risk a loss of reputation and potential legal concerns for those who cannot adhere to local or federal legislation surrounding adequate staffing. Change happens at the top, so CEOs must prioritize finding good workers along with their Human Resources team; this focus should guide executive teams in every hospital agency or private practice, no matter how small or large.
The first concern is looking at staffing levels and identifying exactly how many workers – and of which specialty – must be acquired, as well as gauging the difficulty of doing so. While shortages have eased of late as workers return post-pandemic and younger workers enter the system, it remains difficult, especially as onboarding is a long and costly process.
Crucial areas that require immediate focus are nurses, who often bear the brunt of most day-to-day tasks and are vital advocates for patients. They can also ease the pressure on specialists, who are in shorter supply, by double-checking treatment plans, explaining procedures to patients, and performing any minor interventions that are within their scope of practice.
To find good nurses, utilize specialty job boards like PracticeMatch, which are geared toward the healthcare industry. Take a look at what incentives other hospital systems are providing for potential workers, whether that is relocation assistance, support for repaying student loans, or a flexible leave policy, and work to match or exceed this.
Prioritize inclusive hiring, which not only raises the reputation of your healthcare system, but also provides you with new insights and a better work environment for everyone.
Deciding what practice areas your healthcare system can manage is a tricky process. You want to be known for having a wide scope of care, but you also need to consider finances by looking at exactly how much money each area is bringing in – and how expensive it is to maintain.
This decision must come down to hard numbers rather than concerns about the prestige of having a highly specialized practice area. These doctors are both in high demand and garner high salaries, and if the patient volume is simply not there, it might be in the best interest of your entire system to downsize if you are struggling to afford more generalized care.
If you have multiple locations and have been providing these specialist services at multiple hospitals, think about centralizing this practice area to one location, which will reduce staffing concerns without compromising patient care. It may also relieve stress on your physicians, who will not have to travel to multiple locations in order to see patients. Relocating departments within the hospital itself can also allow for better allocation of equipment, particularly diagnostic equipment, which is both expensive and in high demand. This may seem like a minor change, but it can reduce the amount of staff you require and eliminate redundancies in basic stock.
You may choose to hold a meeting with the heads of these departments to ask them which location would be most advantageous in terms of facilities, locality, and ease of access for patients. Be sure to communicate this change clearly to your clients ahead of time, well in advance of their appointments.
The healthcare industry is fiercely competitive as hospital systems and private practices vie for patients, but this can be detrimental to overall patient care and satisfaction. Many hospital systems refuse to communicate with one another, leading patients to start their referral and diagnostic process all over again when they need specialist care at another system. While this may seem good for the bottom line – after all, customers will then have to pay for multiple procedures – it also frustrates patients and ultimately leads to unnecessary waste of specialist billing hours, testing, and supplies.
Remember that you are working on a common goal with other hospital systems, which is to ensure that your customers get the best service possible. Having a collaborative rather than competitive mindset will allow you to share resources, advocate for healthcare in the local community, and improve patient care overall. It also assists with staffing retention because it creates an environment of openness and mutual support, helping employees feel proud of the place where they work and less willing to practice hop.
Collaboration doesn’t need to compromise your bottom line, nor does it mean that other hospital systems can siphon off your customers, but it can allow you to share knowledge. For example, you may work with other hospitals to hold a health fair or create an inter-hospital patient portal, where you allow patients to connect their separate medical records accounts between different systems.
This can be difficult to manage, and it will require great participation from all involved, but it ultimately shows your staff that you are putting them – and patients – first, which creates a sense of job security and community, which helps develop trust and improve company buy-in.
Healthcare workers are highly motivated to innovate and share knowledge with one another. Encouraging this can make a better system for everyone and help to avoid dangerous staffing shortages as you work to hire new employees.