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.
You don’t need a leprechaun or the “luck of the Irish” to reap the benefits of a productivity management system. Healthcare organizations across the country are managing their COVID-19 recovery through productivity by appropriately aligning their resources with rebounding patient volumes and current community needs. Productivity initiatives promote high-quality care, cost reduction, patient/employee satisfaction, and sustainability.
Love is in the air, and in healthcare, change is always on the horizon. A focus on productivity and workforce optimization may be part of your organization’s 2021 initiatives, but you may be personally struggling with getting behind the proposed strategies. You are not alone – many industry leaders and professionals have a love/hate relationship with performance improvement.
As we bid good riddance to the stress and uncertainty of 2020, it is safe to say that everyone is excited to begin the new year. However, the challenges of last year have helped to guide growth, both personal and professional. That is why it is more important than ever to use the start of 2021 as a time for reflection and evaluation, determining how to further improve upon a foundation forged in the chaos of the pandemic.