The recent challenges to and changes in the delivery of healthcare have spotlighted the demand for more enhanced leadership development moving forward. Throughout the pandemic, staff have displayed their resilience and ability to adapt, made possible by the innovative leaders that guided organizations through recovery towards stability without any predetermined path. This “trial by fire” approach was necessary given the unprecedented situation at hand, but has, in hindsight, proven the value of certain traits that need to be cultivated in future leaders.
For most organizations, healthy finances are the pulse by which operations are measured and improvement strategies developed. Fiscal sustainability sets the tone for services and staffing, balancing cost with demand and quality. Though many would argue that employees, namely nurses, are the heart of a hospital or health system, it is truly a strong margin that determines viability.
Being such a dynamic industry by nature, healthcare will continue to change and evolve in the new year. One of the main areas that experts are predicting a noticeable shift is in the deliberate and more extensive integration of social determinants of health (SDOH) into all facets of operations from registration through discharge planning. Value-based administration will become more commonplace in 2022 as staff, clinicians, and patients alike are incentivized to discuss and document SDOH as a routine part of each healthcare encounter.
Long before the pandemic began, a shift started occurring in healthcare; an evolution of the nursing profession that introduced new opportunities to licensed staff, deviating from traditional patient care. While these innovative roles are enticing and serve to strengthen hospital operations by expanding skill sets and meeting previously unaddressed needs, these positions are creating further strain on care delivery. Staff shortages were already plaguing the industry and now nursing advancement is another element that organizations must navigate.
It is hard to believe, but 2021 has proven to be as difficult a year, if not more so, than 2020 for the healthcare industry. Not only did hospitals and health systems have to work through steep financial and operational recovery strategies to try and equalize the effects of the pandemic, but they had to address further staffing/resource shortages, the impacts of natural disasters, increased labor costs, and prioritize employee emotional well-being all while continuing to manage new COVID surges. That is enough to make any leader skeptical of what 2022 will bring.
This time of year, checklists help manage the back-to-school madness. They provide structure and direction on preparing for the coming year, especially while parents and students alike are still preoccupied with maximizing the waning days of summer. Checklists are also effective in other areas – they transcend in application and detail the elements required and/or steps to be taken in order to reach a goal.
This is a question that many Americans have been asking themselves since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; is it better to stay home and visit with a doctor via a telehealth appointment, or is it worth it to venture into the office for a face-to-face visit? Born of necessity, the rapid expansion of the telehealth platform and its increasing popularity over the last 18 months have revolutionized the way that patients are receiving care. Telehealth appears to be one of the positive and lasting impacts of this mass-scale health crisis, widely adopted by providers as a commonplace treatment option. Though an in-person follow-up visit may eventually be required for some specialties, virtual visits have proven to provide the same level and quality of care as their in-person counterparts.
Staffing shortages have been plaguing the healthcare industry for years and were even further exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19 on hospital operations. Not only were organizations scrambling to recruit and retain skilled nurses, but they also found themselves facing critical gaps in their Respiratory Therapy and Laboratory staff as well. To address the issue and secure the resources needed to effectively and safely provide care, hospitals and health systems began offering enticing, and in some cases exorbitant, sign-on bonuses.
Demand in healthcare, by nature, can be hard to predict. A fundamental part of care delivery is being prepared for the unexpected, whether that be the effects of a natural disaster, large-scale safety event, or global pandemic. However, that does not mean that daily staffing patterns and annual budgets should be buffered to accommodate the “what-ifs.
Spring has sprung! This is the season of rebirth and reinvention. While some organizations are beginning their new fiscal year, others may be reviewing their Q1 performance or gearing up to start their budget process. Regardless of what category your hospital or health system falls into, it is essential to remember the impact productivity has on sustained improvement and continued fiscal strength.