The pandemic may have caused a nationwide labor shortage in the short term.
Employees who resign on the spot.
Companies that shorten hours of operation.
Employers offering signing bonuses.
Yet due to the continued urgency and lethality of COVID, very few leaders currently think about how inevitable long-term trends, such as America’s aging demographic, may soon accelerate existing supplier shortages.
By 2034, US Census predicts that the number of adults 65 and older will exceed the number of children 18 and younger. And since 2 out of 5 physicians are expected to retire in the the next decadeAlong with the current shortage of nurses, the demand for health care services and providers will affect not only price and quality, but broader economic policy and social reforms as well.
Similar situations are happening in Japan, Germany and China. The supply of physicians and other ancillary professionals cannot match the demand of its growing populations. As a result, healthcare systems, already under severe financial and labor constraints, are now struggling to stay afloat with COVID.
And soon, the United States will be able to do it too. But the severity and severity will depend on how well today’s healthcare leaders are preparing and incentivizing organizations for the future to address burnout rates, administrative burdens, and job satisfaction, which are directly attributed to shortage of doctors. Therefore, healthcare must first align itself with incentivizing value-based contracts to reduce the churn rate.
Doctors burn out faster and exacerbate staff shortages faster when, instead of focusing on patient care, they must spend a lot of time and energy on administrative tasks such as charting, which has become increasingly cumbersome. A study suggests that clinicians spend almost 17 minutes per encounter using EHR; with 11 percent of that time occurring after hours. This is especially true in a fee-for-service arrangement, where large amounts of documentation are needed to obtain reimbursements and doctors are overworked.
Instead, by operating on a value-based contract arrangement, physicians do not need to generate large volumes of patients and associated documentation to receive payments. Doctors can focus more on patient care with less paperwork. This can alleviate physician patient caseloads, reduce administrative burdens, and partially address physician shortages.
Second, healthcare leaders must take advantage of predictive analytics and automation to optimize staffing capabilities and eliminate highly manual and repetitive tasks.
EHRs that minimize pop-ups and require as few clicks as possible to record records will not only free up time to provide higher quality care, but also allow other physicians, such as nurses and APPs, to practice to the best of their ability . Research shows that higher retention levels are related to job satisfaction, which also influences better patient health outcomes and how likely nurses are to decide retire early.
Furthermore, the physical and mental demands placed on nurses today are overwhelming and will only continue to increase due to the increasing acuity of patients. Many nurses, like doctors, feel drained and emotionally drained. The result only exacerbates the physician shortage. Therefore, it is critical that healthcare leaders choose carefully which technologies best support the delivery of high-quality patient care, optimizing workforce capabilities, and promoting a healthy and safe work environment for patients. employees.
Unhealthy work environments are the last important factor for healthcare leaders to consider. To counteract the impacts of burnout and other factors in physician shortages, organizations must offer mental health wellness programs for members of the care team. More importantly, organizations need to foster a space that allows physicians to seek help without feeling stigmatized. A survey reports that 73 percent of emergency physicians expect stigma at work for seeking personal treatment during the pandemic. There must be an organizational change to encourage physicians that seeking help is normal. Doctors need not always feel like they are superhumans.
While certain factors that contribute to shortages cannot be changed, healthcare leaders have yet to figure out how to align pay incentives, invest in appropriate technologies, and foster a sustainable work culture. We have to realize that the most important thing for patient care and health outcomes is ultimately helping physicians avoid leaving the profession. If we don’t, the physician shortage will be far worse than one might imagine.
Timothy lee is a health care strategist.
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