If you are a healthcare administrator or a shareholder in a major medical group, a recently released report from Elsevier Health may alarm you. The report suggests up to half of all healthcare workers could leave their jobs over the course of the next three years. That number includes both clinicians and allied health workers, with the majority being clinicians.
If the research proves accurate and not enough new workers come in behind those leaving, the U.S. may find itself in a position of not being able to offer adequate healthcare services because there are not enough doctors, advanced practice nurses, and nurses to provide it. The healthcare industry is already inadequately staffed. Losing half its workforce in such a short amount of time could be absolutely devastating.
Unable to Provide Care
Elsevier Health’s report lists a variety of contributing factors as explanation for why more than 30% of all clinicians are considering moving on. They range from burnout to stress and understaffing. But the underlying theme, when you put all those factors together, is that doctors and nurses feel they are undervalued and unable to provide adequate care for their patients.
Feeling undervalued has little to do with money. It is more how clinicians feel about the way they are being treated by their employers. As for being unable to provide adequate care, there are a number of problems to consider:
- Inadequate staffing
- Lack of support from administration
- Adapting to technology.
Clinicians struggling with technology is ironic in the sense that bringing healthcare into the digital age was supposed to make their jobs easier. Unfortunately, technology is often designed by people who know nothing about the day-to-day routines of the clinicians who use what they build. Technology is clunky, inefficient, and difficult to learn – at least from the clinician’s perspective.
A Two-Pronged Solution
It is clear that the time to act is now. For the better part of five years, the healthcare industry has been warning of a worsening doctor and nurse shortage. But how long can the warnings continue without any action?
Preventing a catastrophic staffing meltdown within the healthcare industry will require a two-pronged approach. The first approach focuses on more targeted recruiting. According to healthcare database provider iMedical Data, the old method of healthcare recruiting was similar to throwing a net in the water and catching as many fish as possible, then sorting through to find the best ones. A more targeted and focused strategy is needed.
Data provides the fuel for that strategy. Utilizing qualified, vetted, first-person data provided by clinicians themselves allows recruiters to zero-in on the best candidates for each job. It makes for more efficient recruiting, better negotiating, and more filled positions.
Addressing Current Concerns
While that is going on, the second approach involves actually addressing the current concerns clinicians face. It’s time to increase staffing levels even though it will reduce profit margins. It is time to properly train clinicians in how to use technology, all the while redesigning technology to actually match the clinician’s job instead of the other way around.
It’s even time to take control away from insurance companies and give it back to clinicians. Clinicians should be deciding how much time to spend with patients. They should be deciding what constitutes adequate care. As long as insurance companies are allowed to continue calling the shots, very little will change.
The healthcare industry is facing a significant staff shortage in the coming years. Should predictions come to fruition, our system can be in a world of hurt by 2025. Is that enough time to fix things?